- March 30 marks the commencement of the centenary year of the Vaikom temple street entry movement that was launched in 1924, and a milestone in temple entry movements in India.
- This nonviolent movement was to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple.
- It was the prelude to the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936.
- Launched by leaders in Kerala such as T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph, on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi, 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.
- Periyar’s entry, conditions
- Supported by the Kerala Congress, the committee against untouchability launched the protest on March 30, 1924, where three persons from various communities prevented from entering the temple streets were to go flag off the satyagraha.
- The protest sustained itself for more than one and a half years, leading to many arrests and satyagrahis being jailed.
- Their arrests created a vacuum as there was no leader to lead the protest.
- This led to leaders such as Neelakandan Nampoothiri and George Joseph to request Periyar to lead the protest. There was no looking back.
- As a mark of appreciation, the editor of Tamil journal Navasakthi and scholar, Thiru. Vi. Kalyanasundaram, or Thiru.Vi.Ka. conferred the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom) on Periyar.
- The Vaikom movement was of many hues — as daytoday protests,
arrests, of inquiries, jail terms and and agitations and attacks by orthodox Hindu traditionalists.
- Even the Akalis from Punjab travelled to Vaikom to supply food to the protesters.
- There was also the support of the higher castes for a 13 day march to the capital, a resolution in the Assembly in support of the sanchara (free entry to the streets around the temple), its defeat, and also the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi to negotiate between the government, protesters and orthodox Hindus.
- Backed by the government and the administration, the traditionalists caused many troubles for the satyagrahis, which 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.
- But the satyagrahis overcame the hurdles.
- Tamils, who went to participate in the protest, lent a helping hand to Keralites in favour of temple entry for all communities.
- Periyar and Kovai Ayyamuthu, a firebrand leader, worked in tandem with leaders in Kerala.
- So, the significant temple street entry movement that began on March 30, 1924 ended on November 23, 1925.
- On November 17, the satyagrahis announced their decision to withdraw their protest.
- On November 23, 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.
There was a victory celebration on November 29, 1925, presided over by Periyar. The Kerala government has now decided to commemorate the movement by organising various cultural events.