Women’s collective formalised addressing of EVR as ‘Periyar’
‘Thanthai’ Periyar aka EV Ramasamy, came to be addressed as ‘Periyar’ on Novermber 13 in 1938, in recognition of his achievements in social reform
CHENNAI: The most talked about personality of contemporary Tamil Nadu political history, ‘Thanthai’ Periyar aka EV Ramasamy, came to be addressed as ‘Periyar’ (roughly translated into Tamil as a great man) on Novermber 13 in 1938.
It was on this day in 1938 that a women’s collective called Tamil Nadu Pengal Maanadu (Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference) had organised a conference at Othavadai Hall on Mount Road, where the Cosmopolitan Club sits now. One of the key resolutions adopted was that EVR must only be addressed as Periyar henceforth, in recognition of his achievements in social reform.
The collective resolved thus in an era where women’s conferences of other social/political movements of the times were restricted to challenging dowry collection and celebrating the pride of sastras.
Senior Dravidar Kazhagam leader cum Madras High Court advocate Arulmozhi Annamalai says; “It was a women’s collective cutting across caste, religion and politics differences. They adopted the resolution in honour of his achievements. The conference was chaired by Neelambigai Ammaiyar, daughter of Maraimalai Adigalaar. The conference flag was hoisted by Meenambal Sivaraj. Eminent women leaders of the Dravidian movement Dr Dharumambal, Moovalur Ramamirtham and Malarmugathammaiyar were among the key organisers of the conference.
Significantly, the conference only formalised the conferment of the ‘title’ Periyar on EVR though it far outdated the 1938 conference. He was addressed as Periyar Ramasamy more than a decade prior. It was widely believed that Pattukottai Alagiri was the first to call him so.
Arulmozhi cited an article written by Pandit Janakiammal of Penang in Malaysia way back in 1927 and said, “Essay of Janakiammal has confirmed that ayya (EVR) was referred to as Periyar as early the late 1920s.” The proof is a 1929 book, which ‘Punnai’ Muthu Nadar published, introduces it as “Pon Mozhigal” (Golden words) of EV Ramasamy Periyar, Dravidar Kazhagam president and proprietor of ‘Viduthalai.’