Vaikom Satyagraha is the first organised movement against untouchability in India which took place in the year 1924 in the small town of Vaikom located in the current Kottayam district in Kerala. Vaikom was at that time a part of the princely state of Travancore.
In the Kakinada meet of the Congress Party in 1923, T K Madhavan(disciple of Narayan Guru) presented a report citing the discrimination that the depressed castes’ people were facing in Kerala.
After session, in Kerala, a committee was formed comprising people of different castes to fight untouchability. The committee chaired by K Kelappan, comprised of T K Madhavan, Velayudha Menon, K Neelakantan Namboothiri and T R Krishnaswami Iyer.
In February 1924, they decided to launch a ‘Keralaparyatanam’ (travel through kerala) in order to get temple entry and also the right to use public roads for every Hindu irrespective of caste or creed.
The Satyagrahis made batches of three and entered the temple. They were resisted and arrested by the police. Gandhiji, Chatampi Swamikal and Sree Narayana Guru supported the movement.
After their support, the movement gained prominence in the entire India and support came from far and wide. The Akalis of Punjab supported by setting up kitchens to provide food to the Satyagrahis.
Even Christian and Muslim leaders were in support of the movement. However, Gandhiji was not entirely convinced by this as he wanted the movement to be an intra-Hindu affair.
On Gandhiji’s advice, the movement was taken back temporarily in April 1924.
After discussions with Hindu caste people failed, the leaders again started the movement. Leaders T K Madhavan and K P Kesava Menon were arrested.
On 1st October 1924, a group of savarnas (upper castes) marched in a procession and submitted a petition to the Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bai of Travancore with approximately 25000 signatures for allowing entry to the temple for everyone.