Biography of Sindhutai Sapkal (Mai)

Born – 14 November 1948, Wardha, Maharashtra India
Residence – Sanmati Bal Niketan Sanstha, Manjari
Nationality – Indian
Other names – Mother of orphans
Known for – Raising orphan children
Religion – Hindu

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Dr. Sindhutai Sapkal (14 November 1948 – 4 January 2022) was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for her work in raising orphaned children in India. She was conferred the Padma Shri in 2021 in Social Work category. She died due to heart attack on January 4, 2022 in Galaxy Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra. She was one of the most prominent figures in Maharashtra.

Early life and education

Sindhutai Sapkal was born on 14 November 1947 in a cattle grazing family in Maharashtra’s Wardha district. Being an unwanted child, she was referred to as Chindhi (Marathi for “torn piece of cloth”). Abject poverty, family responsibilities and an early marriage forced her to quit formal education after she successfully passed the 4th standard. At the age of twelve, Sapkal was married to a man twenty years her senior in Wardha District. In her new home, she fought against the exploitation of local women, who collected cow dung, by the forests department and landlords.

Early work with Adivasis

Sindhutai Sapkal later found herself in Chikhaldara, where she started begging on railway platforms for food. In the process, she realized that there were many children abandoned by their parents and she adopted them as her own. She then begged more vigorously to feed them.


Sapkal devoted herself to orphans. As a result, she is fondly called “Mai”, which means “mother”. She has nurtured over 1,500+ orphaned children. She has a grand family of 382 sons-in-law, 49 daughters-in-law, and over a thousand grandchildren. Many of the children whom she adopted are well-educated lawyers and doctors. Some of her adopted children – including her biological daughter – are running their own independent orphanages. One of her children is doing a PhD on her life. She has been honored with more than 900 National and International awards for her dedication and work. She used award money to buy land to make a home for orphaned children. In person, Sapkal recites motivational lines for society and youth.


2021 – Padma Shri in Social work category[6][7]
2017 – Nari Shakti Puraskar from the President Of India.[8]
2016 – Honorary doctorate by the Dr. D.Y. Patil College of Engineering, Pune.
2016 – Social Worker of the Year award from Wockhardt Foundation
2014 – Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize[9]
2014 – BASAVA BHUSANA PURASKAR-2014, awarded from Basava Seva Sangh Pune.
2013 – Mother Teresa Awards for Social Justice.[10][11]
2013 – The National Award for Iconic Mother —- (first recipient)[12]
2012 – Real Heroes Awards, given by CNN-IBN and Reliance Foundation.[13]
2012 – COEP Gaurav Puraskar, given by College of Engineering, Pune.
2010 – Ahilyabai Holkar Award, given by the Government of Maharashtra to social workers in the field of women and child welfare[14]
2008 – Women of the Year Award, given by daily Marathi newspaper Loksatta
1996 – Dattak Mata Purskar, given by Non Profit Organization Sunita Kalaniketan Trust[15]
1992 – Leading Social Contributor Award.
Sahyadri Hirkani Award (Marathi: सह्याद्रीची हिरकणी पुरस्कार)
Rajai Award (Marathi: राजाई पुरस्कार)
Shivlila Mahila Gaurav Award (Marathi: शिवलीला महिला गौरव पुरस्कार)


The 2010 Marathi film Mee Sindhutai Sapkal by Anant Mahadevan is a biopic inspired by the true story of Sindhutai Sapkal. The film was selected for world premiere at the 54th London Film Festival.

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