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Business News/ News / Sengol gains prominence as symbolic significance rises ahead of Tamil Nadu election
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Sengol gains prominence as symbolic significance rises ahead of Tamil Nadu election

The resurgence of 'Sengol' has revitalised the importance of the sceptre in Tamil history, carrying a profound political message for Tamil Nadu ahead of the Assembly election

'Sengol', a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, will be installed in the new Parliament building on May 28 (MINT_PRINT)Premium
'Sengol', a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, will be installed in the new Parliament building on May 28 (MINT_PRINT)

‘Sengol’ – a historical sceptre – is a Tamil word derived from ‘semmai’, another Tamil word for ‘righteousness’. The word ‘Sengol’ gained significance in India when the Indian government announced that the sceptre will be installed next to the Lok Sabha Speaker’s seat in the new Parliament building on May 28. The narrative that has gained prominence over the past few days is that the ‘Sengol’ was handed over to Jawaharlal Nehru by Adheenam of Tamil Nadu in August 1947 to signify the transfer of power from the British to the Indians.

It was kept in the Nehru Gallery of the Allahabad Museum and has been moved to Delhi for its installation in the new building of Parliament.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru holding 'Sengol', a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, with Kumarswamy Thambiran
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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru holding 'Sengol', a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, with Kumarswamy Thambiran (PTI)

The same spectre will be handed over to PM Narendra Modi by the head priest of Madurai Adheenam (mutt) on May 28.

In Tamil, the word ‘Aadeenam’ refers to both a Shaivite monastery as well as the head of the Shaivite math.

History of Sengol

Throwing light on the history and use of the ‘Sengol’, Prof S Rajavelu, formerly with the Department of Maritime History and Marine Archaeology of Tamil University, said the Tamil kings had these sceptres which is a “symbol of justice and good governance". The history dates back to the era of the Chola dynasty in Tamil Nadu, symbolising the transfer of power from one monarch to another.

The Tamil classic ‘Thirukkural’ hails the importance of the Sengol – carrying a whole chapter on the sceptre (titled sengonmai), S Rajavelu said. The Tamil epic Silapathikaram also records the significance of a Sengol.

Sengol and politics

The resurgence of 'Sengol' has revitalised the importance of the sceptre in Tamil history, carrying a profound political message for Tamil Nadu – to be heard on May 28. As Amit Shah said, the handover must continue to be in line with the customs. “This will be a pivotal occasion, and it will usher in the Amrit Kaal in India," Amit Shah said.

Also Read | Congress says no proof of 'Sengol' as British-India power transfer symbol; BJP asks why hate Indian traditions?

In the past few years, the Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has supported the demands of Adheenams and standing with them in its fight against the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government. In their attempt to reach out to the Tamilians ahead of the Assembly election in the state, the BJP-led Central government held the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam and Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam to conceptualise the historical and cultural links between the two ends.

PM Modi, too, expressed the view that events connecting the cultural links between two places should be organized in Tamil Nadu as well as other regions of the country to foster awareness among the present generation about the abundant cultural heritage of our nation.

Also Read | BJP accuses Congress of calling 'Sengol' a ‘golden stick gift’ to Jawaharlal Nehru

The prime minister has also released books on Tirukkural (a classic Tamil language text) and Kashi-Tamil culture. In his speeches, Prime Minister Modi has also referenced Tamil Nadu and its rich cultural history. “Ignoring Tamil will be a great disservice to the nation…our Tamil Nadu and the Tamil culture represent the pride in India’s ancient legacy," PM Modi said. PM Modi has appeared in the traditional south Indian attire of a white veshti a number of times, citing Tamil saint-poet Tiruvalluvar's couplet.

Vummidi Ethirajulu, aged 96, and Vummidi Sudhakar, aged 88, who played integral roles in creating the original Sengol in 1947, are anticipated to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament building.

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Published: 26 May 2023, 08:31 PM IST
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