Word of the day: SENGOL

Word of the day: SENGOL

Disclaimer time, folks.

Despite knowing India for 40 years…

Despite being married to an Indian…

Despite living in India…

…until last week I had never heard of the word “sengol” – but now, along with most of the country, I’m pretty much up to speed on what is, in essence, a sceptre.

I quote Wikipedia:

Sengol a sceptre, which in the Tamil tradition represented the idea of righteousness for Chola kings.

I may be a day or so out, but I think the majority of us first heard about the sengol on May 24th, when our Home Minister, one Mr. Shah, mentioned it, when he announced that this sceptre would be an integral part of the ceremonies in the upcoming inauguration of the new Parliament building.

History will repeat itself on Sunday when the new Parliament House will be dedicated to the nation. On this day, Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will receive the sacred symbol of fair and equitable governance, Sengol and install it in the new Parliament House. This is the same Sengol that was accepted by the first Prime Minister of India, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru at his residence on the night of 14th August, in the presence of several leaders.

Recalling the entire event that took place on the occasion of India’s independence, Home Minister Shri Amit Shah said, “Even after 75 years of independence, most of the people in India are not aware of this event in which India’s transfer of power took place through handing over of Sengol to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru. It was a special occasion on the night of August 14, 1947, celebrating India’s independence. On this night Jawaharlal Nehru received the ‘Sengol’ from the Adheenams (Priests) of the ThiruvaduthuraiAdheenam (Mutt) in Tamil Nadu, who had specially arrived for the occasion. It was precisely the moment in which power was transferred by the British into the hands of Indians. What we are celebrating as independence is actually marked by the very moment of handing over the ‘Sengol’.

Then there was, predictably, a bit of a storm in a teacup, because Congress, the main opposition party, said actually, no, there wasn’t any documented evidence that the last British Governor, Lord Mountbatten, had given the sengol to the first Indian PM in 1947, as reported.

The government hit back saying the sengol had been labelled as a walking stick and left in a museum:

Home Minister Amit Shah launched a sharp attack on the Congress on May 26, asking why it hated Indian traditions and kept a sacred symbol as a walking stick. He said the Opposition party had created a controversy over the Sengol — a historic sceptre from Tamil Nadu — by terming as “bogus” the BJP’s account of its role at the time of Independence…”

In the ensuing couple of days, as barbs flew hither and thither, we all got quickly up to speed on all things sengol.

Anyway, yesterday (May 28th) the Indian PM, Mr. Modi, inaugurated the new Parliament building, and as promised, the sengol played an important role in the ceremonies.

It had been handed over to Mr. Modi the day before by a group of south Indian religious leaders.

I’m sharing some images with you now, so that you, too, can be ‘au fait’ with a sengol.

Mr. Modi prostrating himself in front of the sengol

Entering Parliament


All the opposition parties boycotted the inauguration, by the way.

They were unhappy that the PM inaugurated Parliament, rather than the President, who wasn’t even invited.

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