Arya Pallam: Woman Leaders of Kerala Renaissance

Arya Pallam

Arya Pallam (1908-1989)

Arya Pallam was a communist leader and woman activist from the Namboothiri community who fought against the injustice, oppression, and suffering faced by the Namboothiri women in the patriarchal society. 

Basic Facts

  • Birth – 1908, Valluvanad.
  • Family –
    • Parents – Madhavassery Manakkal Parameswaran Namboothiri & Arya Antherjanam.
    • Husband – Pallath Krishnan Namboothirippad.
  • Death – February 8,1989.
  • Drama/Play – Thozil Kendrathilekke (തൊഴിൽ കേന്ദ്രത്തിലേക്ക്, ‘To the Workplace’), 1948.
Compared to other classes of women, the Brahmin women enjoyed many privileges and superiority, but they too had to suffer the atrocities of the patriarchal system such as polygamy, child marriage, dowry, compulsory widowhood, etc.

Arya Pallam was one of the many Namboothiri women who came forward to put an end to such societal evils. She along with Devaki Narikkattari, Kanjoor Gauri Antherjanam, Kanjoor Kali Antherjanam participated in Yachanayatra (Hunger march) under the leadership of V.T. Bhattathiripad which encouraged the Brahmin women to boycott their veil/purdah (Ghosha).

In the Edakkunni session of Yogakshema Sabha (1929), an organization for the upliftment of Namboothiri women, a resolution was passed under the leadership of Arya Pallam and Parvathi Nenmanimangalam to boycott cadjan umbrellas (Marakkuda) which was considered as a symbol of chastity among Brahmin women and conducted a procession without cadjan umbrella.

It was also repeated in the Taliparamba session of Yogakshema Sabha (1931) where, Parvathi Nenmanimangalam, Aryapallam, and Devaki Narikkattari boycotted Ghosha (veil) and declared that chastity was not in "marakkuda" and they broke it. They also started wearing the sari like other Indian women.

At the Pazhoor session of Yogakshema Sabha, presided by K. N. Kuttan Namboodiri, Arya introduced a resolution called 'Anthapura Mardananeesanam'; which literally translates to Stopping of oppression inside the house.

Arya Pallam also participated in Guruvayur Satyagraha of 1931–32 and delivered a speech on the tenth day.

Under her leadership, she was able to mobilize a large number of Namboodiri youths to participate in the freedom struggle and conducted widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage, panthi bhojanam, etc. She also fought against the oppression against lower-class women and helped them to worship in the temple.

Arya Pallam was one of the earliest activists of the Kerala Mahila Sangam of 1942 (women wing of the Communist Party) in Malabar. She was the leader who led the Brahmin women along with P. Priyadatta, E.S. Saraswati, I.C. Priyadatta, Rema Thampuratti, and Indira Thampuratti in Paliyam Satyagraha (1947–48) and undergone many undergone atrocities in relation to that.

She was also a leader of the Kathumuri Movement. Kanjoor Kali Antherjanam and Gauri Antherjanam also participated in this movement.

Arya Pallam contested in the general election of 1947, later was arrested along with his son when the Communist Party was banned. She was also nominated to Cochin legislative assembly to advise about the Namboodiri Bill.

📝 SideNotes:

  • Namboothiri Yogakshema Mahasabha (Namboothiri Community Welfare Organisation) was founded – 1908.
    • First President of Yogakshema Mahasabha – Desamangalam Valiya Sankaran Namboodiripad.
  • Author of “Marakkudakkullile Maha Narakam” – M.R. Bhattathiripad.
  • Thozil Kendrathilekke
    • Plot – Revolves around a woman named Kavungara Bhargavi of remote village in Karnataka, who leaves home and takes shelter in a "Thozil Kendram" when she finds out that she is going to be sold under guise of marriage.
    • Staged by the members of the Antharjana Samajam of Thrissur in 1948.
    • Third Edition of Thozil Kendrathilekke (തൊഴിൽ കേന്ദ്രത്തിലേക്ക്) in book format by – Dr. N.R. Grammaprakash.
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