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Antharjana Samaajam

Along with the revolutionary activities of the "Yogakshema Sabha" (Click here), the "Antahrjanams" (women of the Namboothiri community) came out of their traditional veils ("Ghosha") and began to wake up to the needs for a social change, under the leadership of Parvathy Nenminimangalam, Parvathy Nilayangod, Parvathy Manazhi, Arya Pallam, Neeli Mangalass and Lalithambika Antharjanam. Although a couple of Antharjana Samaajams were then organised under the leadership of Arya Pallam and others, what gave birth to the present Samaajam was the one that congregated in Namboothiri Vidyaalayam at Thrissur in 1939.

The Samaajam was rejuvenated during 1945 when the Yogakshema Sabha met under the leadership of E M S Namboodiripad, and subsequently held a meeting at Paarakkunnam Mana at Thrissur in 1947. An employment centre functioned at Lakkiti under the Yogakshema Sabha, but became defunct when its members were sent to participate in the "Paaliyam Sathyaagraham" and other such activities. The play, "Sakhaavinte Parivarthanam" was composed and staged in opposition to such involvements. Even the Sabha activities came to a standstill when the periodical, "Yogakshemam" which was being run under the leadership of T S Bhattathiripad, Nenmini Raman Nambudiripad, etc. was handed over to the Sabha led by E M S. There was even an attempt to close down the "Namboothiri Vidyaartthini Sadanam" and take over its funds, and to forcibly enter the Yogakshemam Library and Reading Room and close it down. But providentially they survived, atleast for the time being. The women's wing which was functioning since the revival of the Yogakshema Sabha in 1961, continues as the Samaajam even to this day (2000).

Soon afterwards, a play-writing competition was held, and the best one, "Sthreedhanam" (dowry) was premiered during the next anniversary at Guruvayur. Thereafter, it was staged at Sreekrishnapuram High School, Kizhakkedath Mana, Cherplasseri U P School, Shoranur anniversary, and Kulakkattukurissi A L P School.

A "Yogakshemam" monthly was brought out with four handwritten copies being sent to the four regions. But since the copies were not returned promptly even after a year, they were printed and sold to members.

After 1965, anniversaries were not held for a while. In 1968, The Samaajam established a women's library. It continues to operate as an A-grade library with about 7,000 books. A grand function was organised at Katambazhipuram (Pakakkad district) to honour and felicitate Lalithambka Antharjanam when she got a Central Government award for her work, "Seetha Muthal Sathyavathy Vare" (from Seetha to Sathyavathy), Akkitham (also an awardee), Perumangad Parameswaran (awarded in Youth Festival) and Kuniyil Sobhana (B Sc First Rank).

The Samaajam was registered under the Societies Registration Act in Palakkad in 1977. It conducted classes in sewing and tailoring with support from the Social Welfare Board of the Government of India.

The Samaajam actively supported the "Namboothiri Bill" prior to 1976. One hundred copies of an explanatory questionnaire were supplied to 100 localities instructing them to have them sent to the Commission. The Samaajam went to Palakkad and argued before the Commission. It participated in the meeting at Thrissur specially convened to discuss the issue. However, women lost their rights they had in their own families before marriage, in their husband's families after marriage, and in the dowry if any. According to the Hindu Succession Act, when a member dies, only the legal heirs in the family had rights to the property. Wives lost such rights in their husband's family properties. They had to be contended with being merely subservient to husbands who were hoping to get shares of their fathers' properties after their time.

The Samaajam had sent several resolutions and mass petitions for amending the law relating to "wills" so as to restrict it to only a portion of the property; but so far, all in vain. Efforts are continuing to prevent them and their children, at the whim of their husbands, from being forced out of what was considered their own homes, and into which they had integrated themselves after sacrificing everything.

Anniversaries are being held and scholarships distributed. The organisation not only prods members to attend these anniversaries, but also coaxes them to organise local groups and hold local meetings on the first Sunday of every month.

The Samaajam continues to call upon all Antharjanams to come out of their lethargy and work with single-minded dedication to mould a better new generation and to uplift every man and woman of the community to attain high levels of achievement like it used to be during the time of Sree Sankaraachaarya and his disciples.

Antharjana Samaajam bows at the feet of the social revolutionary who in 1939 organised the Samaajam at the Namboothiri Vidyaartthini Sadanam, and groomed it, and later in 1961, along with the revival of Yogakshema Sabha, rejuvenated it, and gave leadership to all its later activities - the late Cherupoyilam, C K Namboodiri and to all the supporters.

| Article No:24.8 | Last update of this article:16th February 2001 |
Article prepared by: C K Parvathy (President, Antharjana Samaajam), Vadakkedath Mana, Kulakkattukurissi, Mannampatta (P.O.) - 679 517, Palakkad Dist. Phone : 0492-667367

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