A compromise on the actual month of the dawn of the Tamil New Year

Thread started by virarajendra on 10th April 2012 01:15 AM

Author - Virarajendra

A compromise on the actual month of dawn of the Tamil New Year

Historically we are aware that for many years the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere celebrated the Tamil New year with the dawn of the Tamil month of Chiththirai. However many Tamil Scholars under the leadership of Maraimalai Adikal decided the Tamil New Year should be celebrated with the dawn of the Tamil month of Thai. But it coincided with the Thai Pongal festival of the Tamils. Hence the Scholars decided that the dawn of the month of Thai should be celebrated as the Tamil Thai Pongal and Tamil New Year day. This made two factions among the Tamil Nadu, Scholars with one opting for dawn of Thai as the Tamil New Year day and the other opting for dawn of Chiththirai as the Tamil New Year day.

When we say Tamil New Year what we have to note is that we have to compromise on the numerical denomination of the 'year' and the 'month' in which it dawns. The month has to be decided as whether it should be the Thai or Chiththirai, while the numerical value of the year to be determined whether to be the year 2015 after birth of Lord Jesus Christ or 2046 after birth of great Tamil Sage/Poet Thruvalluvar. As many Tamils Scholars and Tamils of Tamil Nadu feels that like how we have a Saalivaahana era, Buddhist era, Christian era, Islamic era, Chinese era, the Tamils too should have a system evolved in reckoning the years in line with the Tamil traditions.

This lead Tamil Scholars to reckon the New Year from the year of birth of the great Tamil Sage/Poet Thiruvalluvar which has been determined by them as in the year B.C.31. Hence the Christian era of 2015 becomes as an equivalent of the Tamil Valluvar era 2046. It is a great and a welcome decision to reckon the Tamil era in terms of Thiruvalluvar Aandu, as long as we know the equivalent Christian era of the Tamil Thiruvalluvar Aandu in order to be on track with the universal time line adopted by all countries of the world which is essential for political, commercial, social dealings of the Tamil Nadu with these countries in the modern times.

The next issue we are left to ponder with is the 'month' of the Tamil New Year celebrations. It has been for long a traditional practice to celebrate the dawn of the Tamil New Year with the beginning of the Tamil month 'Chiththirai'. There is no evidence in the early Tamil Literary or Historical documents to confirm the dawn of the Tamil New Year was in the month of 'Thai'. The significance of the dawn of the month of Thai was - that it was the immediate month following the harvesting month of 'Maarkali', and as a matter of thanksgiving to the Sun God for providing rich harvest to farmers it was celebrated as the 'Tamil Thai Pongal festival' in Tamil Nadu.

The Thai Pongal festivities spread over four days as Suurya Pongal, Maattup Pongal, Kannippongal and Kaanum Pongal referred as "Thamilar Peruvilaa" - was celebrated from the 'first day' of the month of "Thai" known for long as "Thamilar Thirunaal". This day was decided by a large section of Tamil Scholars as the more 'appropriate day' to be reckoned as the dawn of the each "Puth Aandu" of the intended New Tamil Era - the "Thiruvalluvar Aandu" system.

The exact 'month' of birth of Thiruvalluvar has not been determined. However the Scholars thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the second day after Tamil Thai Pongal as the Thiruvalluvar day in honour of this great Tamil Sage/Poet of Tamil Nadu. Here too it is not wrong in celebrating the day after Thai Pongal as the Thiruvalluvar day even if it falls on the day of Maatupp Pongal, but it would have been more appropriate if it was celebrated with Kaanum Pongal, but not as the day of birth of Sage/Poet Thiruvalluvar which is still to be determined.

The next issue is in the light of the fact that there are no positive Literary or Historical evidences from any source that the Tamil New Year has been celebrated in the ancient times in the month of 'Thai', which month are we now to reckon as the Thiruvalluvar Aandu. My suggestion is in keeping with the long standing desire among the large section of Tamil Scholars and Tamils of Tamil Nadu, while we reckon each year with the corresponding Thiruvalluvar Aandu, it is prudent to reckon the dawn of each Thiruvalluvar Andu with the dawn of the traditional Tamil month of Chiththirai for which we have evidences in ancient Tamil Literature, rather than in the Tamil month of Thai where we have no evidence.

The evidences prove that the month of Chiththirai has been the first Tamil month of the 'Ancient Tamil Era - reckoning system', long before the 'Hindu Era - reckoning system' was introduced at the beginning of the rule of Pallava kings in Tamil Nadu. The 'first stage' of intense Sanskritisation of Religion and Social life of Tamils of Tamil Nadu took place during the Pallava period, and the 'second stage' of intense Sanskritisation of same took place during the rule of Karnataka & Nayakkar kings over Tamil Nadu.

Hence we should "decide to reckon" the dawn of the Tamil month of Chiththirai "as the day of the "Thamil Puthuaandup Pirappu" (THE TAMIL NEW YEAR) as before - and as the first Tamil month of the "New Tamil Era" now termed as "Thiruvalluvar Aandu".
From the foregoing it is now found very appropriate to celebrate the "Thiruvalluvar" Day on the first day of the Tamil month Chiththirai", instead of the second day of the Tamil month Thai.


The Tamil Thai Pongal festivities over four days - with Suriya Pongal, Maattup Pongal, Kannip Pongal, Kaanum Pongal and should be celebrated seperately as before with the dawn of the Tamil month of "Thai" being the தமிழர் தம் தொன்மை மிகு "தைப்பொங்கல் பெருவிழா" (நெல் அறுவடை முடிவு - சூரிய வழிபாடு).


While we accepting the Tamil month Chiththirai as the dawn of Tamil New Year, we could do away with the Sanskrit names of years of the Hindu 60 - year cycle, which has been in use in Tamil Nadu. In other words we could refrain from calling this year as 'Manmatha Aandu', and refer only as Thiruvalluvar Aandu 2046 in all Statutory, Public and the Private documentations (i.e the Invitations to Tamil - Weddings and Social functions and the Hindu Religious and Temple functions).

Also the dates of historical events that took place during the period of the great Tamil dynasties of Tamil Nadu the Cholas, Pandiyas, Cheras and the Pallavas and others, which are found in plenty in many Tamil Temple Inscriptions and in Copper Plate Grants to Temples of Tamil Nadu - were not referred to in terms of Hindu Cycle of years (except very few). However in respect of the Tamil Inscriptions found in Karnataka they adopted the Hindu Cycle of Years but along with the Saalivaahana era, and hence will not cause any confusions historically.

In reckoning the years of the Tamil era in terms of 'Thiruvalluvar Aandu', we are 'partly' keeping to the wishes of a greater section of Tamil Scholars, and by accepting the dawn of the month of Chiththirai as the beginning of the "Tamil New Year - the Thiruvalluvar Aandu" and celebrating the Tamil Thai Pongal and Tamil New Year seperately (as it has been done traditionally for very many years) - we are also keeping to the views of much greater section of the Tamil Population.

We are also satisfied that due recognition has been given to the great Tamil Sage/Poet Thiruvalluvar by reckoning the Tamil era in terms of 'Thiruvalluvar Aandu', and also celebrating the second day after Tamil Thai Pongal as the 'Thiruvalluvar day' in honour of him which has already been declared as a State holiday.

Accepting the beginning of each Thiruvalluvar Aandu with the dawn of the month of Chithirai as its first month prevents confusions in respect of the traditional astrological calculations prevailing and forming an important part in the Tamilian Life, in reckoning the dates of the Hindu (Tamil Saiva, Tami Vaishnava - Agamic and also the Sanskrit - Vedic) Rituals and the Religious events observed in the Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu, and the Tamil and Hindu Festivals of the Tamilians celebrated for many years from the days of the great Tamil epic the Silappathikarem around A.D.175.

At this point it should be noted that Hinduism 'does not mean' that it is 'pure Vedism' (the Sanaathana Dharma), but a 'single name' given to various "Hindu Religious Beliefs" of India 'collectively' - namely the Saivaism, Vaishnavaism, Saktham, Kanapathiyam, Kaumaaram and Vedism practised by various sections of Indian community from the time immemorial.


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