(1884 – 1945) – (Andhra Pradesh)
Oruganti Mahalakshmamma (Aged 61) born on 1884 in Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh, India. She was a strong-willed and resolute unsung hero of India’s freedom struggle, who dedicatedly contributed to the struggle for independence. She first began her journey into the freedom struggle by leading campaigns against the high revenue collections by the colonial authorities, which led to a significant drop in revenue collection and posed a severe challenge to the authorities. Mahalakshmamma’s husband and family, known for their patriotic zeal and charitable activities, provided unwavering support to her, and she actively participated in the Salt Satyagraha and Swaraj Movement.
As she watched the Swadeshi Movement grow, she boycotted British goods in Kavali, providing employment to many Indians. Her work caught the attention of the British Raj when she started organizing committees and mandalis (such as Sangeeta Samajam and Bhajan Mandali) to take the struggle for Swaraj to new heights. Her fiery speeches encouraged other women to participate and take responsibility.
Mahalakshmamma’s work wasn’t limited to political struggles, but also social struggles that empowered vulnerable sections of society. Along with Patruri Balasaraswathmma, she inspired the youth and shattered many conservative norms of society. She even married one of her sons to a child widow. She vigorously publicized the cause of Home Rule and played a key role in founding the Congress Women’s Wing in Nellore in 1921. She established several schools for girls and encouraged their active participation.
For her participation in the Salt Satyagraha, she was sent to jail for six months, but this did not dampen her spirits, and she remained undeterred. In the second wave of the Civil Disobedience Movement, her electrifying speeches took down the enemy, resulting in her being imprisoned for another year. This time, her health suffered severely, and her body struggled to cope with the situation. This story of a compassionate social worker and a great youth leader is worth remembering and commemorating. She passed away in 1945.