From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker
Mains level : NA
A recently-released Malayalam film Pathonpatham Noottandu (‘Nineteenth Century’) is based on the life of Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, a social reformer from the Ezhava community in Kerala who lived in the 19th century.
Who was Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker?
- Born into a well-off family of merchants in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, Panicker was one of the most influential figures in the reformation movement in the state.
- He challenged the domination of upper castes or ‘Savarnas’ and brought about changes in the lives of both men and women.
- The social reform movement in Kerala in the 19th century led to the large-scale subversion of the existing caste hierarchy and social order in the state.
- Panicker was murdered by a group of upper-caste men in 1874 at the age of 49. This makes him the ‘first martyr’ of the Kerala renaissance.
What was Panicker’s role in initiating social reforms?
- Panicker is credited with building two temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, in which members of all castes and religions were allowed entry.
- One was built in his own village Arattupuzha in 1852, and one in Thanneermukkom in 1854, another village in the Alappuzha district.
- Some of his most significant contributions were in protesting for the rights of women belonging to Kerala’s backward communities.
- In 1858, he led the Achippudava Samaram strike at Kayamkulam in Alappuzha.
- This strike aimed to earn women belonging to oppressed groups the right to wear a lower garment that extended beyond the knees.
- In 1859, this was extended into the Ethappu Samaram, the struggle for the right to wear an upper body cloth by women belonging to backward castes.
- In 1860, he led the Mukkuthi Samaram at Pandalam in the Pathanamthitta district, for the rights of lower-caste women to wear ‘mukkuthi’ or nose-ring, and other gold ornaments.
- These struggles played an important role in challenging the social order and in raising the dignity of women belonging to the lower strata of society in public life.
- Apart from issues related to women, Panicker also led the first-ever strike by agricultural labourers in Kerala, the Karshaka Thozhilali Samaram, which was successful.
- He also established the first Kathakali Yogam for the Ezhava community in 1861, which led to a Kathakali performance by Ezhavas and other backward communities, another first for them.
Try this PYQ:
Q. The Shri Narayan Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) Movement(1902-03) was related to which of the following community?
a) Mopilla Community
b) South Indian Tea Planters
c) Ezhava Community in Kerala
d) North Eastern Tea Planters
Post your answers here.