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Centenary of the Vaikom Satyagraha

In News

  • The year 2024 marks the centenary of the Vaikom Satyagraha.

About Vaikom Satyagraha

  • Background: Vaikom was a temple town in the princely state of Travancore. The low-caste Hindus were not allowed to enter the temples.
  •  Ezhava leader T. KMadhavan first raised the issue of temple entry in a 1917 editorial in his paper Deshabhimani.
  • In the 1923 session of the INC in Kakinada, a resolution was passed by the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee to take up anti-untouchability as a key issue.
  • Vaikom, with its revered Shiva temple, was chosen as the location for the very first satyagraha.
  • Vaikom Satyagraha was the first among temple entry movements in India
  • It lasted for 604 days (20 months) from March 30, 1924 to November 23, 1925
  • Reasons: The princely state of Travancore had a “feudal, militaristic, and ruthless system of custom-ridden government.
  • The idea of caste pollution worked not only based on touch but also sight — lower castes were forbidden entry to any “pure” place, such as temples and the roads surrounding them.
  • Prominent Leaders: The movement, was led by TK Madhavan, EVR Periyar, MK Gandhi, and Narayana Guru.
  • Temple Entry Proclamation: In November 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore signed the historic Temple Entry Proclamation which removed the age-old ban on the entry of marginalised castes into the temples of the state.

Impacts of the Vaikom Satyagraha

  • Vaikom Satyagraha was a testing ground for the Gandhian Principles of Satyagraha.
  • In 1925, Gandhiji wrote to W. H. Pitt, then Police Commissioner of Travancore to resolve the ongoing matter. Thus, Pitt intervened and signed a settlement between the Government and Gandhiji.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha proclaimed its significance almost a decade later when in November 1936, the historic Temple Entry Proclamation was passed, which lifted the age-old Orthodox ban on the entry of marginalized depressed castes into the temples of Travancore.
  • It was also a great opportunity for the Indian National Congress Party to Grow in Kerala.
  • It became the first struggle for human rights in India.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha had a significant impact on Indian society and politics. The Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), a social reform organization that worked to uplift the lower castes in Kerala began building temples that would allow entry to all people.

Conclusion

  • The Centenary of the Vaikom Satyagraha was a pivotal moment in the Indian independence movement that brought attention to the injustices of the caste system and the need for social reform.
  • The Kerala government, in July 2014, announced the establishment of the Vaikom Satyagraha Memorial Museum and Mahatma Gandhi statue at Vaikom.

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