‘Tamil New Year change beyond State’s Constitutional ken’

via B R Haran - http://newstodaynet.com/ published on February 13, 2009

The Tamilnadu government’s ordinance on Tamil New Year has been challenged by 12 persons from different districts of Tamilnadu and their petition has been admitted in the Madras High Court. The first bench comprising the acting Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhyaya and Justice V Dhanapalan adjourned the matter for hearing on 4 March after serving notices to the respondents, the State government represented by Secretary to government – Law Department, and the Union of India represented by Secretary to government -Law Department. S.Mani of Mylapore, Chennai has filed the petition on behalf of the 12 persons questioning the legislative competence of the state government in promulgating such an ordinance.


While asserting that the state government has curtailed the fundamental right to practice any religion and hurt the religious sentiments, they have said that the government has committed an innovative departure from tradition without disclosing any reasons. They have also averred that the government has offended the time cherished customs and traditions inseparably intertwined with religious practice, belief and faith. The petitioners have categorically opined that the enactment serves no purpose and could render no gain or profit to the state or the citizens, but has positively hurt the religious sentiments and shaken the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution of India.


‘The first day of Tamil New Year, viz. the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai is associated with several religious and time tested customary observances like special religious ceremonies practiced differently by various communities and for propiation for the self for the good of the living, as well as for the benefit of the departed, all underlining unity in diversity and such a religious percept and practice cannot be interfered with by the powers that be’, said the petitioners hailing from different Tamil-Hindu communities. They also added, ‘Tamil New Year starting with Chithirai month marks celebrations observed by all communities with gaiety and fervour and all of them have several religious observances and beliefs inseparably meant with the celebration and this faith and practice directly connected with religion cannot be questioned or altered by any legislation and is beyond the legislative competence of the state’.


The petitioners have cited a number of references from ancient Tamil literatures including the ones belonging to the Sangam period, which have categorically ascertained the truth behind the Chithirai Thirunal as Tamil New Year dwelling deeply into the lives and times of the Tamils since time immemorial. The petitioners have emphasised the ‘Solar Solstice’ being followed in Tamilnadu from olden days and its connection with the religious and astronomical aspects. They have also downright dismissed the government’s attempt to make the Tamil month Thai as the first month, saying that there is absolutely no evidence at all to prove it. Finally, they have prayed for the honourable court’s declaration that the state government’s ordinance is unconstitutional and void.


At a time when a dozen petitions are already pending before the Madras High Court, this latest petition has added more value to the case and the Tamil Hindus are hopeful that justice will be rendered before April, so that, they could celebrate the Chithirai New Year as usual with gaiety and fervour.  

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