In Kerala, the name “Vaikom” conjures up a variety of images, including the poet Vaikom Mohamed Basheer, the vocalist Vaikom Vijayalakshmi, and Vaikathappan, the temple’s patron god. Vaikom is often associated with Mahatma Gandhi in India, however in Tamil Nadu, it is associated with Periyar and his name.
But, there is more to it in terms of a significant social movement. The 30th of March held special significance for Vaikom, a tranquil town in Kottayam, Kerala. The day also signifies the start of the Vaikom temple street entrance movement’s centennial year, which began in 1924 and is significant in India’s temple entry movements. This non-violent protest aimed to lift the ban on utilising the roadways around the Vaikom Mahadeva shrine for members of underprivileged groups.It served as a lead-up to Kerala’s announcement of temple admission in 1936. Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, and others led the campaign between 1924 and 1925 after it was started by leaders in Kerala such T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph on Mahatma Gandhi’s guidance. The committee against untouchability organised a demonstration on March 30, 1924, with the support of the Kerala Congress. Three members of different castes who were barred from visiting the temple streets were to lead the satyagraha. Almost one and a half years of protesting resulted in several arrests and satyagrahis being imprisoned.After April 9, the authorities abruptly ceased making these arrests. The police’s anger was now focused on the protest’s organisers and the Keralan leaders who had tented in Vaikom. As they were all arrested, the demonstration was left without a leader.
Because to this, figures like George Joseph and Neelakandan Nampoothiri asked Periyar to lead the protest. There was no turning around. As a token of appreciation, Periyar was given the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom) by scholar and editor of the Tamil periodical Navasakthi, Thiru. Vi. Kalyanasundaram, also known as Thiru.Vi.Ka. Daily demonstrations, arrests, enquiries, jail sentences, agitations, and assaults by orthodox Hindu traditionalists were all part of the Vaikom movement. Even the Punjabi Akalis made the trip to Vaikom to bring food to the demonstrators.Additional events included the higher castes’ support for a 13-day march to the capital, the Assembly’s rejection of a resolution in favour of the sanchara (free access to the area around the temple), and Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival to mediate negotiations between the government, protesters, and traditional Hindus.
Therefore, on November 23, 1925, a big temple street entrance effort that had started on March 30, 1924, came to an end. There were several significant occurrences throughout these 603 days. On August 30, 1924, 19 leaders, including Periyar, Kesava Menon, and T.K. Madhavan, were released upon the accession of the new Yuva Raja to the throne. The upper castes’ demonstration, which started on November 1 and ended on November 13, sent a memorandum to the regent queen in Trivandrum.
By a single vote, the Sanchara resolution that was put to the vote in the Assembly in February 1925 was lost. Mahatma Gandhi met with the Queen of Travancore, the social reformer Narayana Guru, traditionalists, and police commissioner W.H. Pitt while he was in Kerala. The satyagrahis declared their decision to end their demonstration on November 17. On November 23, the Travancore princely state’s administration decided that three of the four streets surrounding Vaikom temple were open to pedestrian traffic, ending the protest. On November 29, 1925, Periyar presided over a victory party.
Now, the Keralan administration has made the decision to celebrate the movement by holding a number of cultural activities. According to M.K. Stalin, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, the state of Tamil Nadu would also observe the anniversary. Describe the memorial created by the Keralan government. Due to ongoing renovations, it has changed from the one I saw in 2008. The Tamil Nadu government has been caring for a memorial to Periyar since 1994, and it could be the only place where locals can find out what occurred. Another custom that dates back to 1930 in Tamil Nadu is naming children after Vaikom 1.The term Vaikom refers to more than simply a place. It stands for social fairness and the abolition of caste divisions. It is one that the social justice movement and history both still hold dear.