When Gandhiji started his satyagraha against the racial discrimination in South Africa, Valliamma, a 15-year old girl, daughter of an immigrant labourer from Thillaiyadi village near Mayiladuthurai, joined him in the agitation. She was imprisoned and lost her life exactly on her 16th birthday – Feb 22, 1914.
It may be noted that Valliammai’s parents – Munuswamy and Janaki migrated to Johannesburg from Thillaiyadi. Valliamma was born there on Feb 22, 1898. In 1913, she joined Mahatma Gandhi in the fight against racial discrimination in South Africa. She was imprisoned for three months and she suffered viral fever in the prison. When she was released, she looked like a skeleton. She passed away on Feb 22, 1914, her 16th birthday.
Soon after his return from South Africa, in 1915, Gandhiji visited Thillaiyadi and went to the ancestral home of Thillaiyadi Valliammai. Years later, Gandhiji had once remarked that it was Thillaiyadi valliammai’s sacrifice that increased his resolve to fight for Indian independence.
In 1971, the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi built a spectacular memorial for Valliammai at Thillaiyadi. A statue of Valliammai, manuscripts of Gandhiji and several rare photographs have been kept there.
The death anniversary was marked by floral tributes at Thillaiyadi. Mayiladuthurai RDO Rethinasamy, PRO Pandian, APRO Dhanapal, Tahsildar Suriyamurthy, village panchayat president Nagarajan and other officials garlanded the statue of Valliammai.
Senkunthar association office-bearers Sachidanandam, Arumugam, PKC Ganesan, Balasundaram and Ramu; Arunachala Kavirayar literary association secretary Veerasamy and other village leaders spoke about Valliammai.