‘Sengol’ to be installed in the new parliament: Significance of the sceptre, first given to Nehru25th May 2023
The Sengol gets its name from the Tamil word ‘semmai’, meaning righteousness. The sceptre is a historical symbol of Independence as it signifies the transfer of power from the British to the Indians.
Speaking to the media, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday (May 24) said the upcoming inauguration of the new parliament building will also see Prime Minister Narendra Modi install a historic sceptre from Tamil Nadu next to the Lok Sabha Speaker’s seat.
Known as Sengol — derived from the Tamil word “Semmai”, meaning “Righteousness”, according to an official document — the sceptre is a “significant historical” symbol of Independence as it signifies the transfer of power from the British to the Indians, Shah told the media.
“Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru accepted Sengol at around 10:45 pm of August 14, 1947, through the Adhinam of Tamil Nadu, it was a sign of shift of power from Britishers to the people of our country,” he said.
According to the official document, just before Independence, Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, asked Nehru about “the ceremony that should be followed to symbolise the transfer of power from British to Indian hands”.
The soon-to-be prime minister went to consult C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor-General of India, who told him about a ceremony performed during the Chola dynasty, in which the transfer of power from one king to the other was sanctified and blessed by high priests.
“The symbol (for the transfer of power) used was the handover of the ‘Sengol’ from one King to his successor,” the document pointed out. It added that the newly crowned ruler would be given the Sengol with an order to rule his subjects fairly and justly.
How was the Sengol made?
Once Nehru agreed to perform the suggested ceremony, Rajagopalachari, also known as Rajaji, was tasked with the responsibility of arranging a sceptre. Subsequently, he reached out to Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a well-known mutt in Tamil Nadu’s Tanjore district, for help and its leader commissioned the manufacturing of the Sengol to Chennai-based “Vummidi Bangaru Chetty” jewellers, as per the official document.
Constructed by two men — Vummidi Ethirajulu and Vummidi Sudhakar, both are still alive and remember making it — the sceptre measures five feet in length and has a ‘Nandi’ bull on top, symbolising justice.
How was the Sengol handed over to Nehru?
As per the official document, three people, including “the Deputy high priest of the Adheenam, the Nadaswaram player Rajarathinam Pillai and the Oduvar (singer)”, brought in the newly-made Sengol from Tamil Nadu. During the ceremony, which took place on August 14, 1947, a priest gave the sceptre to Lord Mountbatten and then took it back. It was then “taken in procession to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru’s house, where it was handed over to him. A special song was rendered, as specified by the high priest.,” the document said.
It added the song played during the ceremony was composed by the 7th-century Tamil saint Tirugnana Sambandar — a child prodigy who lived only 16 years. The event was attended by Dr Rajendra Prasad, who would go on to become India’s first president, and many others.