It's time to fight forces of divisiveness together, say Pinarayi Vijayan & MK Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin speaks at the inauguration of the Vaikom Satyagraha Centenary Celebration on Saturday, April 1, 2023. Photo: Vishnu Sanal/Manorama

Vaikom (Kottayam): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the 603-day-long centenary celebrations of the historic Vaikom Satyagraha here on Saturday. 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin was the chief guest of the event. Addressing the gathering at the event, Stalin said the Vaikom Satyagraha was the biggest agitation against caste discrimination the country has ever witnessed.

"The struggle inspired various agitations against 'Ayitham' (untouchability) in India. Memories of the Vaikom Satyagraha should empower us to take on more responsibilities at a time when forces of divisiveness are gaining strength," he said.

He also said he desired to reach Vaikom even when the Tamil Nadu Assembly was in session.

Meanwhile, Pinarayi Vijayan said the satyagraha gives the message that united struggles are much more powerful. 

"The unity Kerala and Tamil Nadu shared during the Vaikom struggle will continue in the future as well. The camaraderie the states share is an example for the entire country," said Pinarayi.

Both the chief ministers arrived for the inauguration ceremony after paying floral tributes at the Periyar memorial.

The celebration will commemorate the heroic non-violent struggle against the social evil of caste discrimination and untouchability.

Minister V N Vasavan presided over the ceremony held at Vaikom Kayaloram. Arrangements were made to facilitate 15,000 people.

People from Tamil Nadu alone came in 80 buses to take part in the event. Around 1,000 police personnel were assigned for security purposes.

Vaikom Satyagraha

The Vaikom Satyagraha is a historic agitation that paved the way for the Temple Entry Proclamation in the princely state of Travancore.

The nonviolent movement that began in March 1924 -- demanding the right of members of oppressed castes to walk on the roads leading to the Vaikom Temple, now in the district of Kottayam -- went on till November 1925.

The Vaikom Satyagraha was a turning point in the struggle for equal rights vis-a-vis the access to Temples by people of all castes. Mahatma Gandhi took part in Satyagraha in March 1925 and held discussions with the Travancore royalty.

Spiritual leader Sri Narayana Guru took part in the Satyagraha along with a host of prominent activists, notably, K Kelappan, TK Madhavan and KP Kesava Menon.

The Vaikom Satyagraha was a precursor to the Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 abolishing the ban on oppressed caste people's entry to temples in the Princely State of Travancore.

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