Art & Culture

The historic ‘Sengol’ will be installed in the new Parliament

The Prime Minister plans to install the ‘Sengol,’ a historical sceptre from Tamil Nadu, in the new Parliament building, which is due to open on May 28, 2023.

What is Sengol?

  • Sengol is a mediaeval sceptre with cultural and historical significance in Tamil Nadu.
  • Sengol, derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” which means “Righteousness,” is a symbol of justice and good administration.
  • The passing of power from one monarch to another was sanctified in the Chola era, with the sceptre being handed over as a symbol of authority and the responsibility to rule with fairness and justice.
  • It rose to prominence during the transition of power from the British to the Indian people following India’s independence.

History: Traditional Chola Practice and Symbolism

  • The Sengol is presented in accordance with a traditional Chola practise in which Samayacharyas (spiritual teachers) led the coronation of kings, sanctifying the transfer of power and symbolically recognising the ruler.
  • The Sengol, a symbol of justice and fair administration, has cultural significance as recounted in ancient Tamil scriptures such as Silapathikaram and Manimekalai.

Sengol’s Recent Context and Creation

  • Lord Mountbatten’s Question: Prior to India’s independence, Lord Mountbatten, the country’s last Viceroy, inquired about the event that would mark the transfer of sovereignty.
  • Inspiration from the Chola Dynasty: Rajagopalachari, India’s last Governor-General, proposed a Chola dynasty-style rite in which the transfer of power was sanctified and blessed by high priests.
  • Rajagopalachari approached Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a renowned Shaivite mutt in Tamil Nadu’s Tanjore region, which commissioned the Sengol from Chennai-based jewellers “Vummidi Bangaru Chetty.”
  • Vummidi Ethirajulu and Vummidi Sudhakar expertly sculpted the five-foot-long Sengol, which features a symbolic ‘Nandi’ bull representing justice.

The Meaning of the ‘Sengol’

  • Symbolic significance: The ‘Sengol,’ derived from the Tamil word “Semmai,” which means “Righteousness,” is a major historical symbol of independence.
  • Pandit Nehru, the first Prime Minister, received the ‘Sengol’ from the Adhinam of Tamil Nadu on August 14, 1947, signalling the transfer of sovereignty from the British to the Indian people.

The Handover Ceremony

  • Arrival of the Sengol: Three people, including the Adheenam’s deputy high priest, a Nadaswaram player, and an Oduvar (singer), delivered the newly manufactured Sengol from Tamil Nadu.
  • The Procession: The Sengol was handed over to Lord Mountbatten during a procession on August 14, 1947, and was afterwards carried to Jawaharlal Nehru’s house, where it was officially presented to him.
  • Attendees & Sacred Song: The event was accompanied by a unique hymn created by the 7th-century Tamil saint Tirugnana Sambandar, as requested by the high priest. Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first president, and other dignitaries were in attendance.

Tamil Traditions and Ceremonial Procession

  • Magnificent parade: The Sengol will be carried to the House in a magnificent parade.
  • Traditional Nadaswaram musicians will lead the parade, playing Tamil Nadu’s famous instrument, and PM Modi is anticipated to walk alongside them, honouring Tamil culture.
  • Adheenams and Sanctification: Adheenams will be present at the Lok Sabha’s Well, who are priests from Shaivite mutts in Tamil Nadu. In keeping with Tamil customs, they will purify the Sengol with holy water after Prime Minister Modi greets them.
  • Oduvars and Sacred Recitation: Oduvars, or Tamil temple singers, will recite the “Kolaru Padhigam” eloquently, while Nadaswaram musicians will captivate with their soulful music.

@the end

  • The Sengol is still regarded as a symbol of Indian freedom and a tangible reminder of the country’s rich cultural heritage and the principles it promotes.
  • Its placement in the new Parliament Building emphasises its significance and seeks to educate and inspire people about this historical event and the ideas it represents.
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