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Channar Revolts

  • Channar Revolts, also called 'Maru Marakkal Samaram' (മാറു മറക്കൽ സമരം) refers to the series of revolts from 1813 to 1859 of Channar women in the Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts.

Background

  • In 19th century Travancore, uncovering of one's chest to higher status people was considered a sign of respect by both males and females.

  • Thus, the lower caste women, such as the Channars had to uncover their chest in the presence of members of the upper caste.

  • Lower-caste women who wore clothes that covered their breasts had to pay a punitive breast tax to the state.

  • Upper-caste women covered both breasts and shoulders with a piece of material known as the 'upper-cloth' (മേൽമുണ്ട്).

  • Channar women were not allowed to cover their breasts, to punctuate their low status.

  • Uneasy with their social status, a large number of Channars embraced Christianity and started to wear 'upper cloths'.

Channar Revolts

  • The Channar women campaigned to be allowed to cover their breasts.

  • In 1813, Col. Munro, British dewan in the Travancore court, issued an order granting permission to women converted to Christianity to wear upper cloth.

  • The order was withdrawn when upper-caste people complained about this.

  • The women continued the fight for the right to wear upper cloth.

  • This led to increasing violence in the 1820s against Channar women, and also the burning of schools and churches.

1859 Proclamation

  • On 26 July 1859, under pressure from Charles Trevelyan, the Madras Governor, the king of Travancore issued a proclamation giving the right for all Channar women to cover their breasts.

  • Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma was the king of Travancore at that time.

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VILMEEN KODI
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