Thiruvalluvar birth anniversary celebrations - Time to correct historical wrong

  • By Sami Thiagarajan & B R Gauthaman
  • January 2015

Part  1 Click here to view

BJP  Member of Parliament Tarun Vijay has been advocating pan-India  recognition for the Tamil language. Greatly influenced by Thirukkural,  considered a “Universal Veda” on Humanity, he spoke about the  greatness of Sage Thiruvalluvar and his monumental work Thirukkural in Parliament and urged that the birth anniversary of the sage be  celebrated nationwide. The demand was immediately welcomed by members  cutting across political lines and Human Resource Development  Minister Smriti Irani said the government would officially announce  the celebration of the divine poet’s birth anniversary.

At  the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, attended by Prime Minister  Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, it was decided to  celebrate Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary across the country by  holding seminars and symposiums highlighting the great Tamil savant’s  contribution. Tarun Vijay also evinced interest in the great poet and  freedom fighter Subramania Bharatiyar by approaching the union  government to make the poet’s house in Varanasi a national heritage  monument. Smriti Irani said the government would also celebrate the  birth anniversary of Bharatiyar.

While  expressing our thanks and appreciations to Tarun Vijay and Smriti  Irani from the bottom of our hearts, we would like to draw the  attention of the Union Government to the existence of an anomaly - a  historical blunder - behind the celebration of Thiruvalluvar’s  birth anniversary, which needs to be corrected immediately. With this  in mind, we submit this Research Paper urging the Central Government  to kindly take it up with the State Government and do the needful at  the earliest, so that the Indian people in general and Tamils in  particular all over the world can celebrate the divine poet’s birth  anniversary on the correct and most appropriate day.

Monumental  Blunder by Karunanidhi Government

The  Tamil Nadu government has been celebrating Thiruvalluvar’s birth  anniversary for more than three decades. But in 1971, the  Karunanidhi-led DMK government declared January 15 (second day of  Tamil month ‘Thai’)  as the birth day of the divine poet on the basis of “Resolutions”  passed by a Conference of Tamil Scholars led by Maraimalai Adigal  alias Swami Vedachalam in 1921.

As  the Dravidian Movement was inimical to the usage of traditional Tamil  Years, which have a 60-year cycle, Karunanidhi pushed in a system of  “Thiruvalluvar Year” in the guise of bringing “continuity”.  Quoting Maraimalai Adigal’s conclusive research that Thiruvalluvar  was born in 31 BC, Karunanidhi declared that Thiruvalluvar’s birth  year would be officially considered as Tamil Year.

However,  for his own reasons, Karunanidhi conveniently forgot to take the day  (Anusham star of Vaikaasi month) specifically mentioned by Maraimalai Adigal as the birth day  of Sage Thiruvalluvar. Without citing any evidence, he declared  Thai-1 (first day of Tamil month ‘Thai’)  as birth day of Thiruvalluvar, and later, again for his own reasons,  changed it to Thai-2 (second day of Thai).  Due to the prevailing political climate then and also for the sake of  having continuity in accounting the years, the people of Tamil Nadu  including scholars, remained silent over the declaration by the DMK  government.

In  2008, the then Karunanidhi government, again for its own reasons,  declared the first day of Thai (Thai-1)  as “Tamil New Year Day”. Here again, he mentioned the  “resolutions” passed in the same “1921 Conference” led by  Maraimalai Adigal alias Swami Vedachalam. It must be noted that  Karunanidhi did not mention the day and month when the said  conference was held in 1921.

When  we delved deep into the archives, we found no such conference was  held in 1921! Hence, we created awareness among the public through  various media houses and also filed a writ petition against the  Karunanidhi government’s declaration of Thai-1  as Tamil New Year. While the proceedings were going on in the Madras  High Court, the AIADMK government led by Jayalalitha changed the  Tamil New Year back to the traditional Chithirai-1  (first day of Tamil month Chithirai)  to the great relief of the Tamil community.

Conference  held by Thiruvalluvar Day Forum

As  we researched various evidences in the archives, we found many  details with regards to a Conference of Hundreds of Great Tamil  Scholars held on 18-19 May, 1935 at Pachayapas College under the  aegis of the Thiruvalluvar Day Forum (Thiruvalluvar Thirunal  Kazhakam), in Chennai.

This  conference, led by Maraimalai Adigal, was attended by many eminent  scholars such as K Namachivaya Mudaliyar, V Kalyanasuntharanar, TP  Meenakshi Sundaram, Koteeswara Mudaliyar, S Sachidanandam Pillai, B  Dawood Shah, ET Rajeswari Ammal, P Kannappa Mudaliyar, T  Sengalvarayan, Siva Arunagiri Mudaliyar, M Balasubramania Mudaliyar,  Siva Muthukumarasami Mudaliyar, T Sengalvaraya Pillai, Kaazhi Siva  Kannusami Pillai, RS Sambasiva Sharma, V Subbaiya Pillai, TP  Gopalaratnam, MV Venugopal Pillai, Ninrai Thangavelu Mudaliyar,  Minister in Madras Presidency S Muthaiya Mudaliyar, Deivanayakam  Pillai, S Vaiyapuri Pillai and A Balakrishna Pillai, et al. More than  a thousand persons attended the conference.

In  his presidential address, Maraimalai Adigal mentioned that he had  arrived at the conclusion that the birth day of Thiruvalluvar was the  day on which Anusham star falls in the Tamil month of Vaikaasi. This conclusion was based on the Tamil, indeed Bharatiya tradition, of celebrating anniversaries based on Nakshatra and Thithi (star and day). It could not be a coincidence that May 18, 1935, the  day the Conference was inaugurated, was also Vaikaasi  Anusham!

During  the conference proceedings, Maraimalai Adigal never forced the  delegates to accept his conclusion. The Conference never mentioned  Thiruvalluvar’s birth year as a benchmark for ‘continuity’. The  conference didn’t pass any resolution at all – as claimed by  Karunanidhi. In fact, Karunanidhi for his own reasons had misled the  people by saying that the Conference was held in 1921, when it was  actually held in 1935. The Conference had a nine-point agenda and  neither “Tamil New Year” nor “Continuity of Years” figured  among them. The main purpose was to celebrate Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar every year and feeding the  poor people through annadanam on that day.

Authentic  evidences for Vaikaasi-Anusham

We  feel that both the Central and State Governments must utilize this  God given opportunity to correct the historical wrong committed by  the Karunanidhi regime. The doubts and uncertainties over the birth  anniversary of Sage Thiruvalluvar must be cleared and settled once  and for all. We have collated the following authentic evidences,  apart from the above mentioned conference.

- Marai. Thirunavukkarasu, son of Maraimalai Adigal, who wrote his father’s biography, mentions that he had accompanied his father on a trip to Sri Lanka in 1921 and that his father had addressed a seminar on the first day of Thai in Jaffna. Thus, Karunanidhi’s claim falls to pieces. Moreover, Karunanidhi, himself being a Tamil scholar, could not have missed this biography, leave alone the other evidences of the said Conference.

Following the 1935 Conference, Thiruvalluvar Day Forum celebrated the divine poet’s birth anniversary on the day of Vaikaasi-Anusham under the presidentship of Sri UV Swaminatha Iyer in 1936.

- Francis Whyte Ellis, a civil servant in Madras Presidency during the British period, was a scholar of Tamil and Sanskrit. He documented that Thiruvalluvar was a divine poet and that his birth anniversary was celebrated in the Thiruvalluvar Temple in Mylapore.

Scholar Thiruthanikai Saravana Perumal Iyer had published Thirukkural in 1837, wherein he noted a proclamation made by the British government announcing Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.

- The Thiruvalluvar Temple in Mylapore has been celebrating Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary every year, right from the beginning to till date, on Vaikaasi-Anusham. Scholar and epigraphist S Ramachandran opines that the Temple must have been built during the 13th century. He says he has seen the original sculpture of Thiruvalluvar, which was unearthed from inside the temple complex in 1974, when the then Karunanidhi government arranged for the renovation of the temple. He added that the sculpture could not be consecrated as it was slightly damaged. Even today, the old Iluppai tree is there inside the temple, as a remembrance of his place of birth. The hut which was beside the tree was replaced by the temple in which is ensconced a replica of the sage. Maraimalai Adigal made a mention of this fact.

- Periyar EV Ramasami Naicker, who is adored by Dravidian politicians including Karunanidhi as Thanthai (father), has also documented Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.

CN Annadurai, former Chief Minister and founder of DMK, had once led the celebration of Thiruvalluvar Day on Vaikaasi-Anusham at Seven Wells area in Chennai.

- Pandit KP Ratnam, a great Tamil scholar from Colombo, founded the Tamil Marai Kazhakam (Tamil Vedic Forum) and through it spread the message worldwide that Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary must be celebrated on the auspicious day of Vaikaasi-Anusham. Tamil scholars across the world accepted his message and followed it in letter and spirit.

- On Vaikaasi Anusham on 2 June 1966, during the Congress regime, the then President Dr S Radhakrishnan unveiled the statue of Thiruvalluvar in Mylapore in the presence of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Bhaktavatsalam and the then Mayor of Chennai Mr Minor Moses. Bhaktavatsalam also declared Vaikaasi-Anusham as a holiday to mark the birth anniversary of the sage.

- We have also, via an RTI application, obtained information from the HR&CE Department of Tamil Nadu government confirming that the Thiruvalluvar Temple in Myalpore, which is under its administration, has been celebrating Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.

Therefore,  the mistake committed by the then Tamil Nadu government must be  undone. The present Central and State Governments should put this  opportunity to good use.

Professor  Sami Thiagarajan is President of the Dravidian Intellectual Forum,  Chennai; BR Gauthaman is Director of the Vedic Science Research  Center, Chennai

Translation:  R Sudarshan & BR Haran

Part 2 Click here to view

The  formation of the Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhakam (Thiruvalluvar Day  Forum) paved the way for spreading the message of Thiruvalluvar’s  birth anniversary. The forum was formed by various scholars about 80  years ago, when Shri V Subbaiah Pillai, who was in charge of  Tirunelveli Thennindhiya Saiva Siddhanta Kazhagam, shared his idea  with his friend Shri Kaazhi Sivakannusaami Pillai. Together, on 17  January 1935, they decided to form an association - Thiruvalluvar  Thirunal Kazhakam - to commemorate the memory of sage Thiruvalluvar  on a specific day.

Accordingly,  a team of directors comprising Vidwan Paripakkam Unnappa Mudaliyar,  Thamizh Pulavar Siva Muthukumaraswamy Mudaliyaar, Shri Kaazhi Siva  Kannusaami Pillai, B.A., Shri M Balasubramaniam, M.A; Shri T  Chengalvaraya Pillai, B.A., L.T.; Shri V Subbaiah Pillai, Shri CM  Govindaraja Mudaliyar, was formed.

The  directors and executive members selected by them approached  Perumpulavar Prof K Namachivaya Mudaliyar to take up the chairmanship  of the Thiruvalluvar Thirunal Kazhagam. He accepted and Thiruvalluvar  Day Forum was formed.

The  Forum decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on  18th (Vaikaasi  Anusham)  and 19th of May 1935 and to extend the celebration across the nation  and world. On the first day (18 May) they placed a portrait of  Thiruvalluvar and Thirukkural written on palm leaves on a pedestal  and went in a procession to Thiruvalluvar Temple, where they  performed pooja, abishekam and arati for the sage poet. The  celebration was conducted at Pachayapas College, as previously noted.

Celebration  at several places

On  the same day (18 May 1935), the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar  was celebrated at many places across the state.

- Mylapore - Thiruvaluvar Temple under the leadership of Temple Trustee Sivagnanam Pillai

- Royapuram – Under the leadership of Diwan Bahadur A Ramaswamy Mudaliar

- Seven Wells Street, Broadway – Seven Wells Youth Forum under the leadership of CN Annadurai

- Coimbatore – Coimbatore Tamil Sangam under the leadership of Shri Ramachandra Chettiar

Celebrations  were also held at Bangalore, Bellary, Puducherry, Tanjore, Tiruchy,  Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and many other places.

In  1936 also, Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated on Vaikaasi  Anusham.

- Chennai – Under the presidentship of Shri UV Swaminatah Iyer

- Tenkasi – Tenkasi Thiruvalluvar Kazhakam under the leadership of Thiru V Kalyana Sundaranar

- Coimbatore – Under the leadership of Thudisaikizhar A Chidambaranar

In  1937, Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated under the leadership of  Sivakavimani CK Subramania Mudaliyar at Pasaneri on behalf of  Thiruvalluvar Day Forum.

Centuries  of Tradition

Sri  Lankan Tamil scholar KP Ratnam established the institute, Tamil Vedic  Forum, in 1952 and had Tamils of the world celebrate the anniversary  of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi  Anusham in 1953 and 1954. There is no way to express our gratitude to this  great man than by worshiping him in our hearts. Here are some  significant facts about the Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore.

- KP Ratnam didn’t propagate this message on his own, but simply spread his ancestors’ opinion and followed their tradition. Thiruvalluvar Temple at Mylapore, Chennai, is the “Symbol” of that tradition for centuries.

- The birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar is celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham and the day of his departure to his heavenly abode is observed on Maasi Uthiram, right from the beginning in this Temple.

A  slump and a revival

The  fact that the birth anniversary was celebrated on Vaikaasi  Anusham from 1935 to 1940 was not denied by anyone. Even leaders of Dravidar  Kazhakam and Justice Party like EVR Periyar, CN Annadurai, PT Rajan,  A Gajapathi Naicker have celebrated on Vaikaasi  Anusham only.

Unfortunately,  Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary, which was celebrated in such a  grand manner, lost its sheen and was relegated to obscurity, but was  later renewed with fresh vigour after 17 years, in 1952, by Sri  Lankan Tamil scholar Pandit KP Ratnam.

I.  Notes from scholars who have accepted the assertion of KP Ratnam and lent their support to celebrate Vaikaasi-Anushan as Thiruvalluvar Day

- “As per your reference, there is no reservation against celebrating on Vaikaasi Anusham” - His Holiness Kunrakudi Adigalar (13.2.53).

- “The great day of the poet who gave Kural lends greatness to Tamil”- Naavalar S Somasundara Bharatiyar

- “When you and others do not have any difference of opinion in observing Masi Uthiram (the day he attained Siddhi) as Guru Poojai Day, there can be no objections whatsoever in celebrating Vaikaasi Anusham as the day of his birth” - Pandithamani C Ganapathipillai (13.6.1953)

- “Your efforts are most apt and commendable”- Shri S Uthirapathi, M.A., Professor of Central University of Bangalore (19.7.54)

- “Since 1935, Vaikaasi Anusham has fortunately become a day of celebration. Hence, we may establish so”- Prof Shri A Arulappan, B.A., Palamkottai St. Saveriyar College (19.8.54).

- “Thiruvalluvar Thirunal mostly is celebrated during Vaikaasi Anusham in Tamilnadu” - Prof. Ra. Pi. Sethupillai (24.2.54)

- “In celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham, myself and those belonging to Thamizharasu Iyakkam would cooperate wholly” - Ma. Po. Sivagnana Gramani (15.3.54)

- “Your service deserves great praise” - Vidwan Pandit L.P.Karu. Ramnathan Chettiar (20.3.54)

- “The birth anniversary celebration of Thiruvalluvar is hugely praiseworthy and may I present my cooperation and wishes to your great effort”. - Dr. Ma. Raasamaanickanaar (12.3.54)

- “Due to your great efforts it has been firmly established that the birth anniversary falls on Vaikaasi Anusham”. - Sidhanta Siromani Sri. CS. Kandaswami Mudaliyar (16.3.54)

- “May you indulge in more efforts and may the Feet of the Lord grant you all the success” - . Kaviyogi Sudhanandha Bharatiyar (15.3.54).

- “That people like us are duty bound to follow in the footsteps of those like you” - Pulavareru A Varada Nanjaiyyan (12.3.54)

- “That the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar is being celebrated at Mylapore Temple on Vaikaasi Anusham itself is ample evidence for your statement - Balakavi Vayinaagaram Ve. Ramanathan Chettiyar (Vijaya Maasi.30).

- “I hail your efforts. It is a result of sustained motivation” - Dr. Mu. Varadaraasan (17.3.54)

- “According to your appeal we would celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar during the month of May on 18th (Vaikaasi, 3) in a grand manner” - Pulavar C. Ilakkuvanaar (23.3.54)

- “In our land, this day is celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham naturally” - Professor Aa. Sa. Gnanasambandan (6.3.54)

- “The efforts you have undertaken are very great. I pray Almighty that it succeeds well” - Swami Chidbavanandha (13.3.54)

- “That we consider Kural as Vedas and celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar aptly on Vaikaasi Anusham is as per tradition and right”. - Shri. Ki.Vaa. Jagannaathan (26.5.54)

- “You are celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. I convey my happiness to you and other volunteers too”. - Rasikamani TK Chidambaranatha Mudaliyar (28.1.53)

- “My sincere appreciation to your strenuous efforts” - Kalaivaanar NS Krishnan

II.  Magazines and Journals have also accepted the message of Scholar K.P.Ratnam and made the following observations.

- “It is essential that anniversaries of great men are celebrated, but on which day is of little significance” - It would be difficult to give a satisfactory answer to this statement. However, one cannot deny the fact that there are a few advantages in celebrating it uniformly throughout the land. In such a situation, when there is a need to mention a particular day, it would be better to have Vaikaasi Anusham itself as the day of significance, as it has been accepted and acknowledged by those like Maraimalai Adigal.” - Kalki, April 12-1958

- “We appeal to all Tamil folks, institutions, libraries, schools and other public institutions to celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar on Vaikaasi Panai (Anusha) every year”. - Senthamizh Selvi - Vaikaasi, 1953

- “There is no doubt that the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar, if celebrated on a particular day would fetch immense benefits. This being the case, there is nothing wrong in observing Vaikaasi Anusham which has been accepted by the majority as his birth anniversary and Maasi Uthiram as the day he left his earthly abode.” - Atma Jothi - Vaikaasi, 1953

- “Forthcoming 18.5.54 (the day on which Anusha star falls), is the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar who gave Tamil Veda. It is firm that all Tamil lovers would support the plea of this Kazhagam that the day be declared a public holiday by the government” - Kumudham - 20.4.54

- “Great Scholars like Maraimalai Adigal and others have declared Vaikaasi Anusham and hence we too accept that Vaikaasi Anusham is apt” - Thiruvalluvar - May, 1953

- “Thiruvaluvar’s birth anniversary falls on the 5th Day of coming Vaikaasi the (18.5.54). Tamils world over should celebrate this day in their homes, institutions, associations and educational institutions. May the Tamils be proud of their race and rise in unison!” - Thamizhosai - April 1954 (Singapore)

- “What difference does it make if we celebrate the anniversary of a great man and a pandit of international stature in whatever way one deems? (The journal Kalki lends a fitting reply to this question) - . Kural Malar 12.3.54

- “That the best literature of the world, Thirukural is in Tamil language and Thiruvalluvar who penned it is a Tamil, is a unique honour and privilege to the Tamil community. The best way for the Tamil society to appropriate itself befitting this honour and privilege is to celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar across the nook and corner of the world. This year, during the month of Vaikaasi, 5, (18.5.54), the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar should be celebrated by all at all places” - Dharma Chakram - Chithirai 1953 - Chithirai 1954.

- “Guru Pooja is observed during the Anusha star of Vaikaasi month at the Thiruvalluvar Temple situated at Mylapore. In consonance with this tradition, we may celebrate the birth anniversary of Valluvar. Of course, Thiruvalluvar may be celebrated on all days. However if all were to celebrate the birth anniversary unitedly on the same day, it would be beneficial. This year the birth anniversary of Valluvar falls on 18th of May. Whatever be our actions, they ought to be within the confines of tradition and we can follow the tradition and celebrate accordingly”. - Kalaimagal - Vaikaasi 1952

- 28.5.53 is Thiruvalluvar Day. We emphasize that the Tamils prosper in their lives by celebrating this day in all institutions. - Samooga Thondan - 13.4.58

Besides  the above, magazines like Sudandiran, Thamizhnaadu, Dinamani Kadhir and others have written editorials and special columns. Magazines  like Kaveri, Kumaraguruparan, Sangapalagai, Sidhantham, Senkol, Chettinadu, Thirupugazhamirdham, Dravida  naadu, Dravidan, Dinamani, Thondan, Senkol, Vindhiya, Amudhasurabhi, Manavar jothi, Udhayam, Thamizh muzhakkam, Eazhakesari, Dinakaran, Thamizh  murasu, Thamizh nesan and others have also published the releases of the institution  founded by KP Ratnam thereby giving him encouragement and support.

Among  the above, it must be noted that Dravida  naadu was a journal edited by CN Annadurai, who later became Chief Minister  of Tamil Nadu.

III.  Many Sabas, Forums and Associations have also accepted the appeal made by Tamil Marai Kazhakam (Tamil Vedic Forum) and celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi Anusham. They are as follows:

In  Sri Lanka
1. Yaazhpaanam Arya Dravida Basha Abhiviruthi sangam
2. Kozhumbu Saiva Mangaiyar Kazhagam
3. Kozhumbu Vivekananda Sabai
4. Ilangai Vanoli thamizh kalai manram
5. Kozhumbu Thiruvalluvar Nataka Sabha
6. Nelveedhi, Arasinar Mathiya Salsaari Thamizh manram
7. Bharathi Kazhagam
8. Unuppitti Hindu Sanmarga Sangam

In  all, about 65 institutions and organizations of Sri Lanka had  celebrated the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi-Anusham

In  India
1.  Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore - Under the aegis of important  personalities like Shri C Rajagopalachariar, Shri OP Ramaswamy  Chettiar, Shri C Narasimhan, Shri A Gajapathi Naicker, Shri VC  Palanichamy Gounder, Shri C Subramaniam, Shri M Manicka Velu and  others and those like Shri Ra. Pi. Sethupillai delivering lectures, Vaikaasi  Anusham was celebrated
2. Tyagaraya Nagar Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam
3. Thenkasi Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam
4. Puducherry Mangala Gaana Sabha
5. Pudukottai Thirukokarna Nilayam
6. Chennai Thiruvalluvar Manram
7. Conoor Bharathi Pazhanjika Vaalibar Manram
8. Devakottai Thiruvalluvar Sangam
9. Tyagaraya Nagar Hindi Prachara Sabha
10. Madurai Thiruvalluvar Kazhagam

In  this way at many places, Vaikaasi  Anusham was celebrated as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. Other  capitals of Indian states such as Guntakal, Chithor, Calcutta, Bombay  and Bangalore too witnessed the celebration of this anniversary.

In  Burma
All  Burma Thamizhar Sangam celebrated on Vaikaasi-Anusham.

In  Malaysia
Samaya  Prachara Saba at Burmai
Thamizh  Pannai Silangar Branch
Thamizh  Ilaignar Sangam, Siramban
Thamizh  Pannai Branch at Malaya

All  the above forums celebrated Thiruvalluvar Day on Vaikaasi-Anusham.

In  Singapore
Thamizhar  Sangam and Thamizhar Ezhuthalar Sangam celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s  birth anniversary on Vaikaasi-Anusham.

In  South Africa
Thiruvalluvar’s  birth anniversary was celebrated at Johannesburg on behalf of  Thiruvalluvar Vedic Forum on Vaikaasi-Anusham.  Moreover it was celebrated at places like Durban and Transvaal, etc.,  in South Africa.

Part 3 Click here to view

An  aberration and how it was defeated by KP Ratnam: In 1953,  when All India Radio at Thiruchirapalli, under the chairmanship of  H.H. Kunrakudi Adigalar, organised a programme to celebrate on Vaikaasi  Anusham,  Tamil Scholar Shri Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham participated along with  Pandit KP Ratnam.

But  in 1954, Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham wrote an open letter to KP Ratnam  stating that Thiruvalluvar anniversary celebrations can be held in  the month of Thai from 1954 onwards, as some people continue to observe it as the  anniversary. Later, when Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham wanted All India  Radio, Trichy to commemorate Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on  the first day of Thai month, AIR authorities rejected his proposal. This fact came out in  the open through the letter of rebuttal given by Pandit K.P. Ratnam  to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham.

In  that letter of rebuttal, KP Ratnam appeals to people not to  politicize the Thiruvalluvar Day celebrations by saying, “Since AIR  stations of Chennai and Tiruchy rejected the claim of our friend  Vishvanatham and accepted our claim, he has to examine as to why it  had happened and attempt to remove the error in his contention.  Casting this aside, developing a defeatist mentality and doubting the  intentions of others do not bode well. We request all Tamils not to  let political differences clash with the celebration of Thiruvalluvar  birth anniversary”.

Further,  KP Ratnam added, “Shri Visvanatham has stated only now that some  people celebrate the first day of Thai as the birth anniversary of Valluvar in Tamil Nadu. But the magazines  which profess Puritanical Thamizh, Dravidian ideology, Vaidika  concepts have all lent support to us giving great motivation and  encouragement, and not one wrote to me against Vaikaasi  Anusham and requested adoption of the first day of Thai month.”

Moreover,  it must be noted that in 1935, all Tamil Scholars, cutting across  religious, political and caste affiliations, celebrated  Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi  Anusham.  Many political leaders such as EVR Periyar, CN Annadurai have  participated in those celebrations. There was nothing at that time to  show that either Visvanatham had objected to the Vaikaasi  Anusham celebrations or requested to celebrate on Thai-1.

Ratnam’s  letter adds, “The new concept of celebrating Thiruvalluvar Day on Thai-1  never appeared to be an alternative for Vaikaasi-Anusham then. Those who claim to serve the interests of Tamils ought to pave  way for unity and not indulge in mudslinging, leading to creation of  differences. This would be accepted by Shri Vishvanatham too. It is  unfortunate that we have come to such a stage where, instead of  adhering to the great deeds of our forefathers and follow in their  footsteps, we are hell bent in destroying the unity of our race, thus  inviting great blame and decay. We should attempt to change this  situation at least now”.

Pandit  KP Ratnam’s letter to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham exposes the fact that  there are always people who impede good actions. Celebrating Thai-1  as Thiruvalluvar Day is against tradition and against the opinion of  Maraimalai Adigal who had established the Thiruvalluvar Era.

Anomaly  behind ‘Thai’ Month

There  is an anomaly behind having Thai-1/2  as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. The conclusion arrived at  by Maraimalai Adigal after painstaking research was that  Thiruvalluvar was born 30 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and  based on that he established the Thiruvalluvar Era. He also arrived  at the conclusion that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birthday of Thiruvalluvar. It is intriguing that people like  Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham and M Karunanidhi reject Thiruvalluvar’s  birth day while accepting his birth year, both being confirmed  findings of Maraimalai Adigal. What else can one infer other than  ‘self interest’ as the reason behind their stand!

Tamils  world over celebrate Thai-1  as Pongal festival attaching importance to agriculture. As the focus  will be on Pongal, the significance of Thiruvalluvar Day may lose its  sheen, and hence, the TN government in the seventies shifted its  stand and announced ‘Thai-2’  as Thiruvalluvar Day. Since then the government has been celebrating  2nd day of Tamil month Thai as Thiruvalluvar Day.

However,  this day is celebrated by Tamils world over as Mattu  Pongal, attaching significance to worshipping and thanking their cattle  wealth which help their progress in agriculture. In fact, Pongal is  celebrated for four days, the first day being “Bogi”,  second day being “Pongal”,  third day being “Mattu  Pongal”  and the last being “Kanum  Pongal”.  Moreover, in many households, people include various types of meats,  liquor and even cigars while performing poojas on Mattu  Pongal and Kanum  Pongal.  Thiruvalluvar in his Thirukkural talks  about the evils of eating meat (Pulan  Maruthal – Rejecting Meat) and drinking liquor (Kal  Unnaamai – Abstain from Liquor) in separate chapters with ten couplets each.  So, it is an irony that the government chose to name Mattu  Pongal as the birth anniversary of a sage who advocated vegetarianism and  advised people to stay away from liquor, and stood against all kinds  of vices throughout his life.

Further,  the government doesn’t celebrate Thiruvalluvar Day with the  required significance. It is an exercise in tokenism. Thiruvalluvar  is neither extolled nor hailed. The government just awards some Tamil  litterateurs who are favourably disposed towards the ruling  dispensation in a listless ceremony and there ends the matter.

Although  the Rationalists claim they do not subscribe to the sanctity of the  planetary system, they cannot reject the existence of Sun, Moon and  the stars. Those who are learned about the ways of Tamils of yore,  their histories, principles and traditions, would vouch for the fact  that Tamils of the Sangam age celebrated festivals based on the stars  alone. Ancient Tamils celebrated their birth stars as evidenced by Tholkaappiyam.  Works like Muthollaayiram contain verses which announce the stars of the three great Tamil  dynasties namely Chera, Chola and Pandiya. This can be seen in the  explanation of 36th sutra in Tholkaapiyam by name Purathinai.  Celebrating the star alone is Tamil tradition and celebrating the day  is an alien tradition.

Our  ancestors excelled in calculating time based on days and planets.  They were called as Kaniyar and it is their discovery which is known as Panchangam,  even today. Panchangam is hailed as “Aindhu  Kelvi”  by the great Tamil epic Silappadhikaaram.

Leave  alone the first day of Thai month, even the first days of other Tamil months cannot be known  without the help of the Panchangam.  This fact should be borne in mind. The days of Pongal festival like the first of Thai and the second of Thai are celebrated for various reasons. We are aware that the birth  anniversaries of avatars like Buddha, Mahavira and Sankara are  celebrated on separate days. Similarly, a separate day is required to  celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar.

Placing  our divine sage Thiruvalluvar along with those avatars, we have to  celebrate the day of his birth on a separate day. We ought not to  confuse it with the days of Pongal festival. Only on the basis of  such empirical reasoning has the Thiruvalluvar Temple been  celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi  Anusham for hundreds of years. Realising this, Maraimalai Adigal, Thiru. Vi.  Ka., Periyar, Anna and others accepted to celebrate the star day as  birth anniversary. They knew well that celebrating star is an ancient  Tamil tradition. Hence, all Tamils, without reservations, should  celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi  Anusham.

Our  humble appeals

Here  is our appeal to former Chief Minister and DMK President Dr.  Kalaignar Karunanidhi:

It  is only you who introduced the Thiruvalluvar year to the Tamil  community and it has taken firm roots. However, not just Maraimalai  Adigal, even after celebrating the birth day of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi  Anusham by the likes of Periyar and Anna, you rejected their practice and  adopted Pongal day. It is still mystifying as to why you did so. We do not wish to  enter into researching your point of contention, as we are aware that  you would be ready with an explanation for that too. Tamilnadu is  well aware of the fact that if you commit an error in your public  life, and if one were to point it out with suitable evidences and  proofs, you would not accept the error in an honorable way, and on  the contrary, would indulge in justifying it with explanations.

In  that manner, it would be better if you refrain from making  explanations and simply follow the recommendations of Anna, Periyar,  Maraimalai Adigal,, Naavalar Somasundara Bharathiyar,  Kunrakudi Adigalar, Ka. Namachivaya Mudaliyar, Dr. Mu.Va, Dr.  U.Ve.Sa., A Ramaswamy Mudaliyar and others, who are to your liking.  We request you to issue an appeal to the Tamil people asking them to  celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi  Anusham at least in the days to come. If you were to make such an appeal,  your respect and stature would rise to the heights of a palm tree and  not be reduced to even an iota.


Here  is our appeal to Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri Panneer Selvam and  former Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Selvi  Jayalalithaa:

Sir  / Madame,
Realizing  the truth in the information contained in this Paper, hence forth the  second day of Thai (Mattu  Pongal)  should not be celebrated as Thiruvalluvar Day by the Tamilnadu  government, and on the contrary, a government order needs to be  issued stating that it would be celebrated on Vaikaasi  Anusham.  By doing this, the error committed in the past would be rectified and  the future made to correct the error. If you were to issue such an  order, not only would you earn merit of correcting a historic  blunder, but you would earn a firm place of honour in the history of  Tamil culture and tradition, as honourable as the one which you  earned by repealing the Tamil New Year Ordinance promulgated by the  DMK government.

Our  actions so far in this regard

A  detailed letter was written to former Chief Minister and DMK  President Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi on 11 April 2012.

A  detailed OP-ED Column was written, published in Tamil Daily  “Dinamani”  dated 14 April 2012.

DMK  President in his “Open Letter” in his party organ “Murasoli”  dated 22 April 2012, made a passing mention about the OP-ED Column in Dinamani and refrained from giving a straightforward reply to the pointed  questions.

A  letter to Director, Department of Tamil Development, Government of  Tamil Nadu was sent on 25 May 2014.

We  received a reply from Director, Department of Tamil Development,  Government of Tamil Nadu, through his letter dated 30 June 2014,  requesting proofs and evidences for our contention that Vaikaasi-Anusham is the birth day of Sage Poet Thiruvalluvar.

A  reply was sent to Director, Department of Tamil Development on 14  July 2014 citing various proofs and evidences. We also attached a  letter from Sri S Ramachandran, epigraphist (retd from State  Archaeological Department) giving various facts with regard to the  Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore.

We  sent another letter in continuation of the previous one on 16 July  2014 to the Director, Department of Tamil Development attaching the  article published in Tamil daily “Dinamalar”  and reproduced by Tamil fortnightly “Hindu  Mithran”.  We attached a copy of the photograph of the sculpture of  Thiruvalluvar which was unearthed during the renovation done in 1973.  We also cited various other evidences substantiating the fact that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.

We  sent a third letter on 18 July 2014 to Director, Department of Tamil  Development, in continuation of the previous two letters, attaching a  copy of the OP-ED article published by Tamil daily “Dinamani”  on 14 April 2012. We reiterated the salient features of our previous  letters.

We  sent a fresh letter on 22 July 2014 to the Secretary, Department of  Tamil Development citing the various communications we had with the  Director, Department of Tamil Development.

We  sent a representation to the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu  on 15 August 2014, referring to our various communications with the  Department of Tamil Development and requesting her to declare Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Sage Thiruvalluvar and observing it as “India  Ethics Day”.

We  sent a letter to Sri Poonkunran, personal secretary to the Chief  Minister, on 17 November 2014, citing the important facts and  evidences with regards to the issue and also referring to our various  earlier communications, and requesting him to do the needful.


As  the Center has declared a nationwide celebration of Thiruvalluvar’s  birth anniversary from 2015 onwards every year, we feel this is a  great opportunity for the Central and State Governments to correct  the historical wrong committed four decades back. Tamils all over the  world would be forever grateful.

Professor  Sami Thiagarajan is President of the Dravidian Intellectual Forum,  Chennai; BR Gauthaman is Director of the Vedic Science Research  Center, Chennai

Translation:  R Sudarshan & BR Haran

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