Reversing yet another decision of the previous DMK regime, the Jayalalithaa government on Tuesday announced that the Tamil New Year would now be celebrated in April, instead of January.
The move followed a public demand that the New Year be reverted to ‘Chithirai’, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said in the Assembly, while accusing the previous DMK government of not taking it into account the “sentiments and opinion” of the people while effecting the change in 2008.
The DMK regime’s decision was “useless” and one that “hurt” the sentiments of the people, she said while announcing the move which comes four days after her government decided to convert the Rs 1,200 crore new assembly-cum-secretariat complex into a multi-super-speciality hospital and a new medical college, overturning DMK chief Karunanidhi’s pet project.
Jayalalithaa claimed the Tamil New Year had all along being celebrated in the month of ‘Chithirai’ and the previous regime had changed the system which was in vogue for many years with the sole intention of gaining “publicity”.
Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Minister S P Shanmuganathan moved a resolution seeking to revert the New Year to ‘Chithirai’ in the Tamil calendar.
The Left parties, allies of the ruling AIADMK coalition, expressed their ‘opposition’ demanding the matter be referred to a standing committee. The resolution, however, was passed by a majority vote.
In 2008, the Karunanidhi government had passed a resolution in the Assembly to shift the Tamil New Year to January 14, coinciding with the harvest festival of Pongal.
Jayalalithaa, then Opposition Leader, had declined to conform to Karunanidhi’s move and had greeted the people only during the month of April.
She also claimed that despite the then DMK government effecting a change, people had, however, continued to celebrate the Tamil New Year in ‘Chithirai’ only.
Reacting strongly, Karunanidhi, in a statement to the media, opposed the government’s move to make April 14 as Tamil new year day. He said the decision to make January 14, the first day of Tamil year was based on a research by Tamil scholar Maraimalai Adigal.
“In 1921, Tamil scholar Maraimalai Adigal along with 500 experts had decided on the first day of Thai month (January) becoming the first day of the year and named 12 Tamil months in a year. So was the Tamil calendar of Thiruvalluvar Aandu (Tamil equivalent of Saka calendar),” Karunanidhi said.
PMK too opposed the move saying “deciding the date of Tamil new year should not be based on political differences. Even historical records note that as early as Indus civilization, the first day of Thai was observed as the new year day.”
In a statement, PMK founder S Ramadoss said even though the first day of ‘Chithirai’ is the new year for Hindus, Gujaratis and Marathis observe a separate new year day. So, the government must withdraw its move to make first day of Chithirai (April 14) as Tamil new year,” he said.
Maraimalai Adigal, considered the father of pure Tamil movement in the state in the first half of 20th century, advocated the use of Tamil devoid of Sanskrit words.