123/365 – Thillaiyadi Valliammai
Thillaiyadi Valliammai (22 February 1898 – 22 February 1914) was a South African Tamil woman who worked with Mahatma Gandhi in his early years when he developed his nonviolent methods in South Africa fighting its apartheid regime.
She was born to R. Munuswamy Mudaliar and Janakiammal, a young immigrant couple from a small village called Thillaiyadi in Thanjavur in India to Johannesburg – the gold-city of South Africa to work for their way out of difficulty.
Her father was a trader and owner of a confectionery shop. Since her mother Janaki is from Thillaiyadi in Tamil Nadu, her daughter Valliammai came to be popularly called Thillaiyadi Valliammai.
Valliammai had never been to India. She grew in an environment that was rather hostile to Indians. But the young child did not even know that it was not right to be segregated so,until she was in her early teens.
The birth of Tri-Colour
She heard somebody ask “Why don’t you people register and become South Africans instead? Indians! India doesn’t even have a flag! What are you really fighting for?” “If having a flag is what would give form to India, then here it is,” she said, tearing off her saffron-white-green sari, “MY FLAG! MY MOTHERLAND!”
Gandhi designed the flag with the same three colours as her sari. Gandhi later said that it was her sacrifice that increased his resolve to fight for Indian independence.
Thillaiyadi Valliammai Memorial Hall, including a public library, was instituted in 1971 on 2452 square meters of land by the Indian Government in the village of Thillaiyadi, now in Tharangambadi Taulk, Nagapattinam, India.
The Library is functioning regularly in this memorial. Other buildings in her name include Thillaiyadi Valliammai Nagar and the Thillaiyadi Valliammai High School in Vennanthur.
A commemorative stamp on her was released on 31-december-2008.