There were many causes close to Gandhiji's heart. The Khilafat agitation, the Vaikom Satyagraha and the greater cause of working towards the freedom of this great nation kept him busy. And it was these causes which brought him to Kerala on five different occasions. We follow his footsteps.
Khilafat agitation – 1920, Malabar
The first time Gandhiji visited Malabar was to support the Khilafat agitation. He came to Kozhikode in a train and held talks with the leaders in the area. He also addressed a gathering of about 500 Congress workers. Later on, in the evening, he met the public at the beach. They then travelled to Thalassery and Kannur before going back. Those days, the idea of Swaraj was taking shape. Gandhiji talked passionately about why Hindus and Muslims should unite against the foreign reign.
Vaikom Satyagraha - 1925
Gandhiji's second visit to Kerala began on the 8th of March, 1925 and went on till 19th March. He met with a lot of prominent leaders during the time. The focus of this visit was the Vaikom Satyagraha, among other causes. In those days, entry to temples was restricted to the upper caste Hindus. The lower caste people were not even allowed to walk through the main roads leading to the temples. Gandhiji held talks with the various leaders in Kerala including Sree Narayana Guru at Varkala. Gandhiji, it is said stayed over at Varkala and addressed the public the next day. He was very impressed by the ruler of Travancore Regent Rani Lakshmibhai.
Untouchability, Vaikom - 1927
During his third visit to Kerala, Gandhiji visited schools in Thrissur and inspired the children to be self sufficient. He travelled across Travancore – Kochi and met with the ruler of Travancore. The cause again was untouchability. Gandhiji also talked at many rallies across Kollam and Kochi. During this visit, he stayed at the houses of the local leaders.
Malabar – 1934
Gandhiji visited Malabar again to raise funds for the downtrodden. And it was here that a little girl called Kaumudi walked boldly to the stage after Gandhiji's speech and removed all her ornaments and gifted them to the Mahatma. The little girl also took a pledge not to wear gold there on. Gandhiji was so impressed by this that he wrote about her under the title 'Kaumudi Ka Tyag' in the Harijan Magazine.
Travancore - 1937
His last visit to Kerala was to celebrate the Temple Entry Proclamation. A 'pilgrimage', is what Gandhiji termed this visit. He met with various leaders and partook in various celebrations to commemorate the event. It was during this visit that he met Ayyankali and lauded his efforts to uplift the 'Harijans'.
Gandhiji once said, 'I travel because I fancy that the masses want to meet me. I certainly want to meet them. I deliver my simple message to them in few words and they and I are satisfied. It penetrates the mass mind slowly but surely.' And we could not agree more.