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Vaikom: A Symbol of Social Justice and Caste Discrimination

Vaikom is a town in Kerala, India, that became a symbol of social justice as a result of the temple entry campaign, which began in 1924 with the goal of ending the prohibition on backward groups from using the roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple. The Kerala government has organised a number of cultural events to commemorate the movement and its historical importance in the state. As stated by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Tamil Nadu will also mark the occasion, recognising the role of Tamil leaders such as Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in the movement’s success.

Everything you need to know about the Vaikom Satyagraha

Objective:

  • The main objective was to remove the ban on backward communities from using the roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple, which represented the prevalent caste-based discrimination in society.
  • The movement aimed to create a more inclusive society in which people of all castes could freely access public places and religious sites.

Leaders:

  • Kerala: The movement was started and guided by prominent Kerala leaders K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph.
  • Tamil Nadu: Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, was instrumental in sustaining and leading the campaign to success.
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi advised movement leaders and assisted in resolving disputes between the government, protestors, and orthodox Hindus.

Significance:

  • Social equality and justice: The Vaikom Satyagraha was a seminal nonviolent protest that fought for social equality and justice, challenging India’s caste structure.
  • Temple entry: The success of the movement paved the way for Kerala’s temple entry proclamation in 1936, which gave lower caste individuals the right to join temples.
  • war against caste barriers: The Vaikom Satyagraha has become a symbol of India’s war against caste barriers and for social justice.

Challenges and Hurdles:

  • The government and administration repressed the movement, with many demonstrators and leaders arrested during the demonstration.
  • Orthodox Hindu traditionalists staged violent counter-rallying to quell the movement and preserve the status quo.

Outcome and Legacy:

  • The movement lasted 603 days and witnessed numerous important events.
  • The Travancore princely state government ultimately allowed access to three of the four streets surrounding the Vaikom temple, effectively ending the protest.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha continues to motivate India’s fight for equality and justice, serving as a reminder of the importance of standing up to caste-based discrimination.

The Movement’s Progress and Periyar’s Role

  • Periyar E.V. Ramasamy was instrumental in organising the protest, garnering him the title Vaikom Veerar. (Hero of Vaikom).
  • Daily demonstrations, arrests, inquiries, jail terms, and agitations characterised the movement.
  • The Akalis from Punjab, who travelled to Vaikom to give food to the protesters, were among those who took part in the movement.

@the end

Vaikom is more than just a town name; it is a symbol of social fairness and the abolition of caste barriers. It is an important component of India’s social justice movement’s history and continues to inspire the fight for equality and justice.

Source: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/vaikom-a-satyagraha-and-the-fight-for-social-justice/article66680678.ece
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