Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 08 June 2023

Sengol controversy

Source: By B. Baskar: The Business Line

Sengol is the Tamil word for sceptre which in medieval and pre-medieval times used to be presented to the kings during their coronation by the high priests. In 1947, during the time of transfer of power from the British to India, it was used as a symbolic gesture to show a ceremonial transfer of power from the British to Indians.

The Thiruvavuduthurai Adheenam, one of the oldest Shaivite institutions, officiated the ceremony. Chennai-based jewellers Vummidi Bangaru Chetty and Sons had made the Sengol in 1947. It was later kept in a museum in Allahabad.

Why is the Centre keen to install the Sengol in the new Parliament building? 

On 28 May 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the Sengol from the 24 Adheenam heads and it is placed near the Speaker’s Chair in the new Parliament building. It is a symbolic act reminiscent of the transfer of power in 1947.

What is the history of the Sengol? 

Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India, asked Jawaharlal Nehru on the ceremonial aspects of the formal transfer of power from the British to the Indians. Rajaji (C Rajagopalachari) is reported to have advised Nehru on this ceremonial transfer power tradition that existed in the medieval Tamil kingdoms. There is documented evidence of this practice of during the Sangam era and even during the Chola period in the medieval era.

According to reports, on 14 August 1947, the Deputy High Priest of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam Nagaswaram player Rajaratnam Pillai and a traditional temple singer (Oduvar) took the Sengol and presented it to Lord Mountbatten. It was taken back from him and purified with holy water from the river Ganga and taken to Nehru’s residence in a procession and handed to him marking the symbolic transfer of power from the British to the Indians. A special song was also rendered on the occasion.

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