Petition from the Cheramar Sthree Samajam to Elizabeth Kuruvila, Member, Travancore Sree Mulam Praja Sabha

[The following is the translation of a petition submitted by the dalit women’s collective, the Cheramar Sthree Samajam advancing the needs and rights of dalit women in Travancore, to Elizabeth Kuruvila, member representing Women, newly-appointed to the Praja Sabha. It appeared in the dalit publication, the Cheramar Doothan (1103 ME, Karkatakam 30, 1928, p.4). This petition was recently discussed by the young scholar of dalit modernity, Vinil Paul. For a discussion of the historical context and significance of this petition, see, Vinil Paul, ‘Chermar Sthree Samajam’: Tiruvitamkoorile Dalit Sthree Pravarthanangal’, Madhyamam Weekly 26 July, 2021. The Chermar refers to a dalit Christian community (of the Pulaya people) formed by Pambady John Joseph in 1921. In preference to the already-prevalent caste-name Pulaya, he proposed the new name ‘Cheramar’. Both Dalits who chose the Christian faith and those who did not could be part of this new community. The Cheramar Maha Jana Sangham was formed under his leadership; the above-mentioned publication was also assumed this name the same year. Vinil Paul notes that the Cheramar Sthree Samajam was the women’s wing of this organisation and run entirely by women.

This petition was signed by C Mariamma Cherammal. Her biographical details are yet to be traced. ]

Continue reading “Petition from the Cheramar Sthree Samajam to Elizabeth Kuruvila, Member, Travancore Sree Mulam Praja Sabha”

Are We Not Women Workers Too? The Devadasis Petition the Government of Travancore

[When sex workers began to organize in Kerala early in the twentieth century, people accused them and their supporters of importing new-fangled ‘Western’ ideas and corrupting the morals of local people. But they were mistaken — even though I would want to think more before saying that the devadasis were foremothers of the sex workers who, for example, Nalini Jameela represents, I can firmly say that the devadasis of Travancore looked at themselves as workers, as may emerge from the small paragraph they added to the text they borrowed  from the memorandum submitted by the Madras Devadasi Association to the Royal Statutory Commission of Indian Reforms (1929) for their own petition (in Malayalam) to the Travancore government in 1929] Continue reading “Are We Not Women Workers Too? The Devadasis Petition the Government of Travancore”

For Dalit Women’s Representation: Women of Pratyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha

[Below is the retrieved part of a petition that was submitted to the Protector of Depressed Classes in Travancore by the women of the Pratyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha, which represented not just the spiritual but also (indivisibly from it) the material rebirth of the dalit people in parts of Travancore]

[From V V Swami, E V Anil, Pratyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha: Orma, Paattu, Charithrarekhakal, Adiyardeepam Publications,p. 259] Continue reading “For Dalit Women’s Representation: Women of Pratyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha”