Born in 1885 at Thadhampatti (Salem District), Annai Nagammaiyar was married to Thanthai Periyar in 1898. She was an ardent participant in the rationalist movement during the early days of the party and extended her immense support to Periyar’s proceedings. Though young, she sacrificed her ornamental attire as Thanthai Periyar was actively involved in Gandhi’s non-cooperative movement.
Thanthai Periyar was arrested by the British in 1921 for protesting against toddy shops. Ideologically inspired and involved, Annai Nagammaiyar along with Periyar’s sister Kannamal and other women cadres spearheaded the agitation way forward defying section 144 that prohibits such gatherings.
The intense involvement of the women lead agitation at Erode urged the British government to succumb to a compromise rather than arrest. The Malaviya Conference headed by Sir Sankaran Nair was initiated in Mumbai as a result. Sir Sankaran Nair requested Gandhi to call off the agitation for which Gandhi replied that it was not in his hands but the duo at Erode who consciously led the agitation.
The nation had never before witnessed such an independence struggle led by women picketing toddy shops and even now stands testimony to the ideology of women empowerment that Thanthai Periyar always insisted and believed would help create a new world.
Annai Nagammaiyar staged many protests against religious and caste discriminations. She voiced for women liberation, empowerment, widows remarriage, casteless and rational marriages and also emphasised against the odds of superstitious beliefs.
Periyar was arrested in 1924 twice for his agitations against social discriminations prevalent in Vaikom (Kerala). Annai Manniyammaiyar along with S.Ramanathan and a group of women cadres from Erode immediately landed in Vaikom to take the agitation forward. Though understanding the intensity of the agitation and aware that she would be arrested on account of it, she daringly volunteered without shunning away from such protests.
Annai Nagammaiyar held the position of Publisher of “Kudiarasu” from 1930 until her death in 1933, May 11th. A home catering to the needs of orphaned girls at Trichy Maligai was initiated by Thanthai Periyar bearing the name of Annai Nagammaiyar stands tall as a tribute to the noble contribution of her unprecedented service to the society. The home started by Thanthai Periyar, nurtured by Annai Nagammaiyar and currently taken care by Asiriyar K.Veeramani had celebrated its centenary in 2009.
The dedication and commitment that Annai Nagammaiyar had shown towards carrying the ideologies of Thanthai Periyar will always be remembered and patronized by the society that look forward to world with no discriminations.