Updated: December 18, 2021 9:59:33 am
The Tamil Nadu government on Friday announced ‘Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu,’ an invocation sung in praise of Mother Tamil, as the state anthem and directed that all present during its rendition should remain standing.
The decision comes in the wake of the Madras High Court recently ruling that ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ is a prayer song and not an anthem.
“There is no statutory or executive order requiring the attendees to stand up when Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is sung. But highest reverence and respect ought to be shown to Tamil Thai Vaazhthu,” the court had said.
Chief Minister M K Stalin said a Government Order to this effect has been issued, mandating that all barring the differently abled persons should remain standing when the 55 second long song is sung.
It should be sung before start of any functions in all educational institutions, universities, government offices, public sector undertakings and other public fora in the state, Stalin said in a statement quoting the GO.
In 2018, at a function here, pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi remained seated when the Vaazhthu was sung and this had led to an outrage.
Subsequently, led by a party leader, Kan Ilango, protesters assembled before the Rameswaram branch of Kanchi Math raising provocative slogans.
They allegedly entered the math premises wearing footwear and when the manager of the religious institution protested, he was criminally intimidated. Following the manager’s complaint, an FIR was registered.
Quashing the FIR, since the petitioner-party leader and complainant-math manager have ‘shaken hands’ the Madurai Bench of the High Court had said in its order dated December 6, 2021 that the pontiff is seen sitting in a ‘Dhyana’ posture with his eyes closed.
It was his way of expressing his reverence and respect for Mother Tamil. “Since Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is a prayer song, a sanyasi is certainly justified in sitting in a state of meditation,” the court had said.
Justice G R Swaminathan had said in the order: “It is true that the members of the audience conventionally stand up whenever Tamil Thai Vaazhthu is sung.But the question is whether this is the only mode in which respect can be shown. When we celebrate pluralism and diversity, insisting that there can be only one way of showing respect reeks of hypocrisy.”
Kan Ilango is presently with Naam Thamilar Katchi, and previously associated with the Tamilar Desiya Munnani.
The ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu,’ the invocation to mother Tamil enjoys official status since 1970 and the then Chief Minister, late M Karunanidhi-led DMK government had issued a Government Order as well in this regard.
For over 50 years, it is sung ahead of the start of all official events including those held in state-run and aided educational institutions.
The present GO quoted by Stalin makes it explicit that the song is the official state anthem and that everyone, except the differently abled, should stand up as a mark of respect during its rendition. Also, this order ‘encourages’ singing the anthem in functions organised by private organisations as well. Rather than playing recording of the invocation, the government says it should be sung by trained persons.
The invocation, ‘Neerarum Kadalutha’ is a poem authored by renowned Tamil scholar, professor, P Sundaram Pillai (1855-1897), the author of the popular drama ‘Manonmaniam (1891).’ He is reverentially addressed as Manonmaiam Sundaranar and the Tirunelveli based state-run varsity is named after him.
States including Karnataka (Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate) and Odisha (Bande Utkal Janani) have official state anthems.
The Tamil Thaai Vazhthu is the official song of neighbouring union territory of Puducherry as well.
Reportedly, Uttar Pradesh is working towards declaring an official state anthem. Bihar (Mere Bharat Ke Kanth Haar) is among the other states that have an official song.
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