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Significance of Vaikom Satyagraha in modern Indian history


  1. 2023, marks the commencement of the centenary year of the Vaikom temple street entry movement that was launched in 1924.

What are some significant events related to movement?

  1. The Vaikom movement consists of day­to­day protests, arrests, of inquiries, jail terms and agitations.
  2. There was also the support of the higher castes for a 13-day march to the capital. A resolution was introduced in the Assembly in support of the free entry to the streets around the temple (Sanchara). But it was defeated.
  3. Mahatma Gandhi arrived to negotiate between the government, protesters and orthodox Hindus. Since Mahatma Gandhi insisted that it should be a local protest, requests to make it a pan-­India movement failed.
  4. The traditionalists caused many troubles for the satyagrahis. It included counter rallies marked by violence. The resolution for the right to sanchara was defeated in the Assembly by the open support of the traditionalists. They were backed by the government and the administration.
  5. Tamil Nadu played a pivotal role in Vaikom Satyagraha. Periyar and Kovai Ayyamuthu, a firebrand leader, worked in tandem with leaders in Kerala. But they faced repressive action.
  1. This nonviolent movement was to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple in Vaikkom, Kerala.
  2. It served as a lead-up to Kerala’s declaration of temple entry in 1936.
  3. It was launched by leaders in Kerala such as T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi.
  4. The movement was sustained and successfully conducted by Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then-president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, and others between 1924 and 1925.

Relevance of Vaikom Satyagraha:

  1. The Vaikom Satyagraha, which took place nearly a century ago, continues to hold great significance in the present world.
  2. The movement was a reminder that discrimination based on caste, race, or any other factor is unacceptable and needs to be challenged.
  3. It was a powerful demonstration of the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance in achieving social change. The Satyagrahis showed that they could win the battle without resorting to violence, and this lesson remains relevant even today.
  4. The Vaikom Satyagraha continues to inspire social justice movements around the world. The movement’s legacy shows that ordinary people can come together and challenge oppressive systems and bring about positive change.
  5. The Vaikom Satyagraha emphasised inclusivity and the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. This message is still relevant today, as we continue to grapple with issues of discrimination, intolerance, and inequality.

What is the role of Periyar?

  1. Leaders such as Neelakandan Nampoothiri and George Joseph requested Periyar to lead the protest.
  2. Periyar accepted the request and led the protest making the protest successful.
  3. Thiru. Vi. Kalyanasundaram (Thiru.Vi.Ka.) conferred the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom) on Periyar.
  4. Tamil Nadu played a pivotal role in Vaikom Satyagraha, which symbolised a struggle by the untouchables.
  5. Emperumal Naidu and Sivathanu Pillai were prominent leaders in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu.

What are the impacts of temple entry movement?

  1. In 1925, the government of the Travancore princely state declared that people could enter three of the four streets around Vaikom temple thus bringing the protest to an end.
  2. It paved way for the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936.
  3. In 1928, backward castes got the right to walk on public roads inn all temples in Travancore.
  4. It led to various temple entry movements across India thereby promoting social justice and equality for all.