European Tour of Thanthai Periyar FROM MADRAS TO COLOMBO

Renowned sociologists of various universities are now discussing the impact of Periyar's visit to the South East Asian countries such as Malaya, Singapore, Burma and Ceylon. The National University of Singapore recently invited our beloved leader Dr. K. Veeramani to deliver special lectures on the above subject.

It is interesting to note that he has divided the subject matter into four parts. 1. Social Impact, 2. Economic Impact, 3. Political Impact, 4. Cultural Impact and analysed them each in detail with power point presentation. No researcher has made any attempt so far in this direction. Totally it is a new approach to the impact of Periyar's visit to the South East Asia.

After the tour of South East Asian countries Periyar, a free thinker by nature was deeply in contemplation about the development of science and technology of the western world. He has laid a great importance on science and technology.

Meanwhile the executive committee of the Self-Respect Movement which met at Erode in the first week of February 1931, requested its President E.V.R. and the secretary to visit the European countries at least once. Even before this meeting Periyar was fascinated by the technological advancement of the European countries and fervently desired to visit them.

Periyar did not like to be a tourist to go and see places he had never seen just as a matter of pleasure and relaxation. He wanted to study the life of the people, their customs and manners, their economical equality, welfare of the labourers, faith of the people in god and religion. So it might be regarded as Periyar's  study tour of the Western World. Thus he undertook a tour of Russia and other Western countries.

Accompanied by S. Ramanathan, a noted Rationalist and Thiru. Raju of Erode, Periyar boarded a French ship, "Amboise" at Madras port on 13th December1931. 'Amboise' reached Puducherry port during midnight on the same day.

The 14th morning of December 1931 was a pleasant dawn to the leaders. Hundreds of E.V.R's followers like M.Noel, Perumal a legislative member and advocate and Bharathidasan, the poet of Revolt came to the ship by boat and garlanded them. They wished the leaders a bon voyage.

Meanwhile E.V.R. was suffering from fever and head-ache. Indisposed E.V.R. wanted to change the abode (IV class) allotted in the ship to the third class. He could not stay there in the IV class in the hot sun. Noel's secretary approached the commissioner of the ship in this regard.

The commissioner told him to pay more money to change the abode and that too in Indian Currency. But E.V.R. had only British Pounds. The commissioner refused to accept the pounds. He wanted only Indian currency. So Bharathidasan was asked to go to the town to get Indian currency. Bharathidadan sent a doctor to the ship with some medicines and Indian currency.

By this time E.V.R. felt somewhat better in his health. After a brief check-up the doctor gave some medicines and returned to the shore. So E.V.R. and Ramanathan gave up the idea of changing their abode. But on the other-hand they were treated worse than luggages in the ship.

'Amboise' the French ship reached Colombo port on 16th  December 1931. (4p.m). Janab Shahul Hameed of Colombo, a leading businessman welcomed E.V.R. and Ramanathan, and gave them a grand fare-well party in his 'Meeran Mansion'. The news of E.V.R's arrival to Colombo spread like wild fire.

Under the auspicious presidentship of Thiru S.R.Muthaiah, the Indian Self-Respect Association had arranged a meeting in Lady Sister's Church at Greenpath.

The Adhi Dravidar Mahajana Associations of Ramnad District (Tamil Nadu) Alampattu Adhi Dravidar United Association, Sembanur Adhi Dravidar Development Association, Adhi Dravidar Association of Sevvarasankottai, Self-Respect Association of Malayalam and many other eminent personalities garlanded the leaders and presented them honourable citations.

E.V.R. and S.Ramanathan spoke eloquently to the Self-Respecters assembled in the meeting on the principles of Self-Respect Movement and explained to them the pitiable condition of the downtrodden people. Both men and women numbering about 1500 attended the meeting. At midnight (about 12'O clock) both the leaders took leave from the Self-Respecters and reached the ship.

It is to be noted here that the Adhi Dravidar Associations in Colombo extended a warm welcome  to Periyar with great enthusiasm, because Periyar dedicated himself to redeem social and communal justice for the depressed sections of society.

He led the agitation in Tamil Nadu to eradicate the social evils particularly the hateful untouchability. For over thousand years, the Dravidians were not allowed to enter some of the public roads.

In Vaikom, a beautiful village town in Kerala State, the 'low caste' men were not allowed to walk  in the streets, around the temple as they would "pollute" it by their walking! Periyar, the fighter for human rights participated in the agitation and made the streets to be thrown open to the "low castes". Periyar courted imprisonment twice and won the rights for them.

He was acclaimed and rightly so as the "Vaikom Veerar"   (Vaikom Hero) an epithet by which he is known even today. He was born with abiding mercy for the oppressed. Periyar, the incomparable warrior of human rights, fought for the equality of men and women till he breathed his last.

That is why the Adhi Dravidars stood in the front line to greet Periyar E.V.Ramasamy wherever he went.

Tour to be continued…

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