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KL This Week: Social Reformers Mahatma Ayyankali, Sree Narayana Guru Remembered

Neelambaran A |
NewsClick brings you a round-up of the important developments from Kerala during the past week.
KL This Week

Image by R Prakash.

NewsClick brings you a round-up of the important developments from Kerala during the past week including the end of week-long Onam celebrations organised by the Department of Tourism and other social organisations, Kudumbashree’s sale of products worth Rs 23 crore during the festival week, and the observation of birth anniversaries of Mahatma Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru – two pioneering social reformers of the state. 


The week-long celebrations of Onam, the harvest festival of Kerala, organised by the Department of Tourism, drew to a close on September 2. Several cultural programmes and food festivals were organised in Thiruvananthapuram and several parts of the state. Tourist spots in the city, government offices, parks, and stadiums were illuminated, bringing joy to the onlookers. 

The famous 'Puli Kali' (Tiger Dance) was held in Thrissur with the usual fervour and joy. Since 2016, women have also been participating in the Puli Kali, a dance performed as early as 200 years ago. This year, two women took to the streets to perform the dance traditionally dominated by men. 

The concluding rally, with more than 60 floats, cultural programmes from troupes across the country, and traditional art forms of Kerala among others traversed important roads of the capital city. Several government departments carried tableaus displaying their respective achievements and traditional art forms.

Kudumbashree entered into the record books by performing a mega 'Thiruvathira' dance performance with the participation of around 7,000 women in Thrissur. 

Thousands of people gathered on the roads to witness the gala rally which brought down the curtains on the week-long celebrations. 


The biggest women's self help group (SHG) in the country, Kudumbashree, by organising around 1,070 Onam Fairs across the state, recorded historic sales of Rs 23 crore during the Onam festival with an increase of Rs 4 crore from the last year. 

The minister for local self governments department (LSGD) credited the members of 20,990 Joint Liability Groups (JLG), run by the Kudumbashree for selling different products in the fairs. Besides essential products, the Kudumbashree enhanced their flower cultivation during the current season to over 780 acres from 128 acres last year. 

Meanwhile, the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supply Co) recorded a turnover of Rs 170 crore through sales of different grocery items during the season. The organisation sold 13 essentials at Rs 650 as against the market price of Rs 1,200. The effective market intervention of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government kept the prices of essential commodities under check even during the peak of the festival season. 


The week saw the observation of the birth anniversaries of two prominent social reformers from the state – Mahatma Ayyankali and Sree Narayana Guru. 

The 160th birth anniversary of Ayyankali, who led the historic 'Villu Vandi Samaram' (Bullock Cart Strike) against the denial of education to members of the dalit community was celebrated on August 28.

The members of the Pulayar community, belonging to the Scheduled Caste group were denied permission to use the public roads in the Travancore Princely State and were denied education in the late 19th century. Ayyankali led the historic struggle when the dalits refused to harvest the crops cultivated by the other caste members, leaving the land barren for around one and a half years. The oppressed people won their rights after the historic struggles led by Ayyankali. Political leaders led by CM Pinarayi Vijayan paid tributes to him on the anniversary. 

On the Narayana Guru Jayanthi observed on August 31, Vijayan recalled the contributions of Guru to the society during the times when untouchability, superstition, and customs were dominant. Narayana Guru is remembered for promoting education and questioning the caste-based structure of society.


The month of August 2023 has been the driest in history, with the southwest monsoon bringing very less rainfall to the state. With only 59.6 mm of rainfall recorded against the normal rainfall of 445.2 mm, the state has registered an 86% shortfall this year, the highest shortage in 123 years. 

Though few districts received heavy rainfall towards the end of August, the quantity of shortfall remains too high, with droughts being predicted by different agencies. 


The by-election to the Puthuppally Assembly constituency will be held on September 5 and the results will be declared on September 8. The campaign will end on September 3 even as both the LDF and United Democratic Front (UDF) hope to make history. 

UDF has fielded Chandy Oommen, son of late chief minister Oommen Chandy, who represented the constituency for 53 years without interruption. The victory margin of Oommen Chandy had reduced to around 9,000 in the 2021 election, while the LDF rules six of the eight panchayats falling under the constituency. Jaick C Thomas, a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), has been fielded by the LDF again. 

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