Says Karunanidhi never gave a convincing explanation for the change

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday alleged that celebration of the Tamil New Year was changed from the first day of Chithirai to the first day of Thai by the previous DMK government only to seek publicity and there was no literary and astronomical evidence to support the decision.

“If Tamil scholars had requested the government to change the Tamil New Year to the first day of Thai, why did Mr Karunanidhi wait till 2008, instead of doing it earlier? The people of Tamil Nadu do not want imposition of Thai as new year,” she said addressing a function organised to honour Tamil scholars in connection with the Tamil New Year celebration.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said Mr. Karunanidhi never gave a proper reply to the question why his government had decided to bring in legislation to change the date on which the Tamil New year is celebrated. She said CPI (M) member N. Nanmaram had wanted to know the reasons behind the change when a bill in this regard was introduced in the Assembly, but Mr. Karunanidhi failed to give any explanation.

“This clearly showed that the law was enacted for publicity. A few days later, a function was organised in Valluvar Kottam to felicitate him. Anyone would agree that the programme was organised only for seeking publicity, and that it was not aimed at promoting Tamil in any way or add greatness to the language,” she said. She stressed that the Tamil New Year had been celebrated on the first day of Chithirai for over 2,000 years.

“New Year begins when the Sun's rays fall directly on the equator. The Sun's stay in mesha is called Chithirai. Tamil months are named after the stars under which the full moon day falls,” she said, noting that Saint Agasthya had described Panguni as the last month in his work, ‘Panneeraiyiram'. Quoting from various literary works to substantiate her argument that the Tamil New Year begins only on the first day of Chithirai, she said the lexicon published by Madras University in 1912 reiterated the point.

“Jeevaka Chinthamani says that summer is the first season,” she said, recalling the Tamil New Year greetings issued by Mr. Karunanidhi himself on the first day of Chithrirai. “While making a suo motu statement in the Assembly in connection with the release of prisoners in 1990, he had said they would be released on the Tamil New Year day in Chithirai. This means Mr. Karunanidhi himself has admitted Tamil New Year falls on the first day of Chithirai.” She also disputed Mr. Karunanidhi's claim that Tamil scholars such as Maraimalai Adigal and Thiru. Vi.Ka favoured Tamil New Year on the first day of Thai.

“They decided that Thiruvalluvar Day falls on Vaikashi Anusham. While this is the fact, Mr. Karunanidhi sought to project that all Tamil scholars were unanimous in celebrating the Tamil New Year on Thai and hurt the feelings of Tamils by enacting a law,” she said. The Chief Minister presented various awards to Tamil scholars and prizes to students, publishers and authors.

Tamil Thai award was given to the Madurai Tamil Sangam, the Avvaiyar award to educationist Y.G. Parthasarathy, the Kabilar award to Tamil scholar A.A. Manavalan and the U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer award to another scholar S. Raasu. The Tamil Thai award carries Rs 5 lakh cash and a shield while other awards comprise Rs. one lakh and a medal.

This article has been corrected for an error on April 14, 2012

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