Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Vaikom: A Symbol of Social Justice and Eradication of Caste Barriers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Vaikom Satyagraha

Mains level: Vaikom Movement, Periyar's significant role and legacy of the movement


Central Idea

  • Vaikom is a town in Kerala, India, that became a symbol of social justice due to the temple entry movement launched in 1924, aiming to end the prohibition imposed on backward communities in using the roads around the Vaikom Mahadeva temple. The Kerala government has organized various cultural events to commemorate the movement and its significance in the state’s history. Tamil Nadu also observes the occasion, as announced by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, recognizing the role of Tamil leaders like Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in the movement’s success.


All you need to know about Vaikom Satyagraha

  1. Objective:
  • The primary goal was to end the prohibition on backward communities from using the roads surrounding the Vaikom Mahadeva temple, which symbolized the caste-based discrimination prevalent in society.
  • The movement sought to create a more inclusive society where people from all castes could access public spaces and religious sites without discrimination.
  1. Leaders:
  • Kerala:K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and George Joseph were prominent leaders from Kerala who initiated and guided the movement.
  • Tamilnadu: Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, then president of the Tamil Nadu Congress, played a crucial role in sustaining the movement and leading it to success.
  • Mahatma Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi advised the movement leaders and helped in negotiating between the government, protesters, and orthodox Hindus.
  1. Significance:
  • Social equality and justice: The Vaikom Satyagraha was a groundbreaking non-violent protest that fought for social equality and justice, challenging the caste system in India.
  • Temple entry: The movement’s success paved the way for the temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936, which granted lower caste individuals the right to enter temples.
  • Fight against caste barriers: The Vaikom Satyagraha remains a symbol of the fight against caste barriers in India and the struggle for social justice.
  1. Challenges and Hurdles:
  • The movement faced repressive action from the government and the administration, with many protesters and leaders arrested during the course of the protest.
  • Orthodox Hindu traditionalists organized counter rallies marked by violence, aiming to suppress the movement and maintain the status quo.
  1. Outcome and Legacy:
  • The movement spanned 603 days, witnessing many significant events.
  • The Travancore princely state government eventually granted access to three of the four streets around the Vaikom temple, signaling the end of the protest.
  • The Vaikom Satyagraha continues to inspire the fight for equality and justice in India, serving as a reminder of the importance of challenging caste-based discrimination.


Periyar’s Role and the Movement’s Progress

  • Periyar E.V. Ramasamy played a significant role in leading the protest, earning him the title Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom).
  • The movement was marked by day-to-day protests, arrests, inquiries, jail terms, and agitations.
  • People from various communities participated in the movement, including the Akalis from Punjab, who traveled to Vaikom to supply food to the protesters.


Facts for prelims: Vaikom Satyagraha

Aspect Details
Time Period March 30, 1924 – November 23, 1925
Objective End caste-based discrimination; Allow backward communities access to roads around Vaikom Mahadeva temple
Key Leaders T.K. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, George Joseph, Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, Mahatma Gandhi
Significance Paved the way for temple entry proclamation of Kerala in 1936; Symbol of fight against caste barriers
Challenges and Hurdles Repressive action from government and administration; Opposition from orthodox Hindu traditionalists
Outcome and Legacy Access granted to three of the four streets around the Vaikom temple; Inspired continued fight for equality
Commemoration Cultural events organized by the Kerala government; Observations in Tamil Nadu to recognize Tamil leaders’ role


  • Vaikom is not just a name of a town but a symbol of social justice and the eradication of caste barriers. It is a significant part of the history of the social justice movement in India and continues to inspire the fight for equality and justice.

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