During the last national executive meeting of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) which was held in January this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had advised his party colleagues to encourage cultural exchange programmes, especially between states that are geographically diverse but have a connect historically and culturally.
Taking a leaf out of that, Mr. Modi’s home State Gujarat is all set to host the Saurashtra-Tamil Sangamam. The Kashi Tamil Sangamam hosted last year in the religious town of Kashi or Varanasi was seen as a huge success. The 10-day event saw the participation of top Ministers including Modi.
A similar event is being planned in Gujarat in the month of April at Somnath.
Top sources told ANI that it will be a 10-day event and the number of invitees is expected to be between 3000-5000.
“As ardent Shiva worshippers every year thousands of Tamilians pay a visit to the Somnath Temple, the oldest Jyotirlinga in India. This is also the reason why Somnath has been chosen as the location and the Somnath Temple Trust as a partner for the Sangamam,” another source aware of the development told ANI.
The programme which is still in its planning stage is likely to take shape in a week or so. It not only aims at looking at cultural programmes but will also create a connection through art, food, artisans, education, literature and sporting activities to name a few, sources said. This programme will see the Ministry of Education and Culture collaborate with the Government of Gujarat.
As per historians, in 1024, Mohamed Ghazni raided The Kathiawar Neighbourhood of Somnath. People fled to various parts of the country including southern India. The people, essentially weavers stayed in Madurai and worked on silk robes for the royal families in Madurai under Thirumalai Naicker, The King of Madurai from 1623 till 1669.
They settled in Trichy, Tanjore, Kumbakonam, Salem etc to name a few locations for over four centuries. This has been one of the biggest connections between the two Indian states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Notable personalities from Saurashtra in Tamil Nadu include Carnatic Music Composet Venkataramana Bhagavathar, freedom fighter NMR Subbaraman called Madurai Gandhi, and actor Vennira Aadai Nirmala to name a few.
Out of 12 lahks, estimated Saurashtrian citizens settled in Tamil Nadu, more than 50 per cent reside in Madurai alone.
The rest are spread across Chennai, Salem, Thanjavur, and Tirunelveli to name a few.