Express News Service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as the demand to set up a memorial for Aarattupuzha Velayudha Panicker, a fiery Ezhava chieftain who led many legendary struggles for the emancipation of lower caste women and considered the first martyr of Kerala Renaissance, goes unheard, the historical ‘Mookkuthi Samaram’ of 1860 an agitation led by the marginalised women in the erstwhile central Travancore, is getting visual and audio adaptation.
“The musical video is also a tribute to Aarattupuzha Panicker, who was martyred by a group of upper caste goons while returning from Kollam to his native place in Kayamkulam in a country boat on January 3, 1874. It portrays the fighting spirit of a generation of women who used nose-stud ‘mookuthi’ as their weapon to subvert the existing social order of the period and role of women in society,” said playback singer Pushpavati who has lend her voice to the video on the historical struggle against discrimination towards backward class women.
The song penned by Byju C P and composed by Pushpavati will be released soon. The online poster was released by actress and veteran theatre personality Nilambur Ayisha on Sunday. “Though the 19th century struggle led by Panicker, had played pivotal role in elevating the dignity of lower caste women in society, the social status of women as a whole has not changed much even in the 21st century,” said Pushpavati.
Legend has it that Ezhava women were not allowed to wear ‘mookkuthi’ or nose-stud during the 19th century. An Ezhava woman in Pandalam who wore a mookkuthi was beaten up by upper caste people and ripped off the mookkuthi after inflicting wound on her. Enraged by the act, Panicker had come with gold nose-studs and asked women to wear them as a mark of protest against caste oppression.
This later found place in the annals of history in the name of ‘Mookkuthi Samaram’ of 1860. A seminar recently organised by the Kerala University regional study centre, Pathiyoor, and Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker Memorial Trust on the life history of Panicker has demanded a memorial for him at Pathiyoor apart from steps to preserve his house, including his autobiography in school syllabus.