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Historic sceptre, ’Sengol’, to be installed in new Parliament building


Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, May 25, 2023: The inauguration of the new parliament building this Sunday will also see Prime Minister Narendra Modi install a historic golden sceptre near the Speaker’s seat, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said today. This sceptre, Mr Shah said, was handed over to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to mark the transfer of power from British to Indians.


Sengol


The Home Minister said this sceptre is called "sengol" - which derives from the Tamil word "semmai", meaning "righteousness".

The History

The sengol came into being after a chain of events that started with a simple question by Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of British India, to Prime Minister Nehru. According to historical accounts and news reports, Mountbatten had asked the soon-to-be-PM what would mark the transfer of power when India attains Independence.

Prime Minister Nehru then turned to C Rajagopalachari, the country’s last Governor General, for advice. Mr Rajagopalachari, commonly known as Rajaji, told Prime Minister Nehru about the Tamil tradition of the high priest handing over a sceptre to a new king when he comes to power. Rajaji, reports said, said this tradition was followed during the reign of the Cholas and suggested this could mark India’s freedom from the Raj. It then fell upon Rajaji to arrange a sceptre for the historic moment.

The Making of Sengol

Faced with the daunting task of arranging the sceptre that will mark India’s Independence, Rajaji contacted Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a prominent mutt in present-day Tamil Nadu. The then seer of the mutt accepted the responsibility. The sengol was made by Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweller in then Madras. It is five feet in length and has a ’nandi’ bull on top, symbolising justice.

The Handover

According to reports, a senior priest of the mutt first handed over the sceptre to Mountbatten and then took it back. It was then sprinkled with gangajal, taken in a procession to Prime Minister Nehru and handed over to him, reportedly 15 minutes before midnight, when India attained Independence. A special song was composed and rendered as Prime Minister Nehru received the sceptre.

Sengol’s Place In New Parliament

The history and significance of the ’sengol’, the Home Minister said, was not known to many. Its installation in the new parliament, he said, was an attempt to link our cultural traditions with our modernity. The plan to install the sengol in the new parliament also reflects the far-sightedness of Prime Minister Modi, Mr Shah said. The sengol is now at a museum in Allahabad from where it will now be brought to its new address - the parliament.  

Responding to media queries, Mr Shah stressed that the Sengol should not be linked to politics. "We want the administration to run by the rule of law and this will always remind us of that," he said. The installation of the sceptre, now at a museum in Allahabad, in parliament puts the spotlight on a forgotten episode of history.


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