The picture of Athira holding her six-month-old baby in hand while raising her hand and raising impromptu slogans had gone viral.

Meet Athira who became the face of Kerala Womens Wall
news Women Thursday, January 03, 2019 - 10:44

Hundreds of photos of women standing in long lines, taking a pledge to support renaissance, had already been shared much. People hailed the Vanitha Mathil as a success, as history being written. Those who opposed it said it was a government supported show to break traditions.

When the Women Wall was over and the participants dispersed, one woman led a small group from the roads to a public meeting in Malappuram. When she did, she raised a few impromptu slogans.

"Vijayiche vijayiche Vanitha Mathil vijayiche

Aaru paranju thottunnu

Varu itha kandolu

Keralathin theruvukalil

Njangal theerthathu pen mathil"

Roughly translates to, "It's succeeded, it's succeeded, the Women's Wall has succeeded.

Who said it has failed

On the streets of Kerala

We have finished a female wall."

The young woman - Athira Athu - who called out those slogans, with her baby in hand, wouldn't know for long how that picture of hers had gone viral in minutes. It became the picture depicting the strength of the Women's Wall, the simple power of a mother's voice.

"I said what I had felt then. I had no idea it would become so viral. My baby girl was not with me when I first raised the slogans. She was with comrades," says Athira, who is also district committee member of DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India).

Someone handed her the baby when little Dhulia Malhar, aged six months, began crying. But that didn't stop Athira's hands from raising in the air and shouting those slogans that would become so noticed. The baby is named after a Hindustani raga, Athira and her husband Jiji Mohan wanted a secular name for their little one.

Athira's phone had been broken so it's much later that she knew about the photo's popularity. "But I don't want this attention. It's basically the success of the Vanitha Mathil. And mine is a picture showing that success, nothing more," says Athira, who was a college professor, but has taken a break now to take care of the baby.

"I was teaching commerce to B. Com and M.Com students before that," she says.

She is happy that two women have been able to enter Sabarimala, because 'the Constitution accepts gender equality and circumstances that allow that should be created. The idea that menstruation means impurity should be kept away'. 

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