Thiruvalluvar birth anniversary celebrations: Time to correct historical wrong - III
by Sami Thiagarajan & B R Gauthaman on 21 Dec 2014 2 Comments

An aberration and how it was defeated by KP Ratnam: In 1953, when All India Radio at Thiruchirapalli, under the chairmanship of H.H. Kunrakudi Adigalar, organised a programme to celebrate on Vaikaasi Anusham, Tamil Scholar Shri Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham participated along with Pandit KP Ratnam.


But in 1954, Ki.Aa.Pe. Vishvanatham wrote an open letter to KP Ratnam stating that Thiruvalluvar anniversary celebrations can be held in the month of Thai from 1954 onwards, as some people continue to observe it as the anniversary. Later, when Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham wanted All India Radio, Trichy to commemorate Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on the first day of Thai month, AIR authorities rejected his proposal. This fact came out in the open through the letter of rebuttal given by Pandit K.P. Ratnam to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham.


In that letter of rebuttal, KP Ratnam appeals to people not to politicize the Thiruvalluvar Day celebrations by saying, “Since AIR stations of Chennai and Tiruchy rejected the claim of our friend Vishvanatham and accepted our claim, he has to examine as to why it had happened and attempt to remove the error in his contention. Casting this aside, developing a defeatist mentality and doubting the intentions of others do not bode well. We request all Tamils not to let political differences clash with the celebration of Thiruvalluvar birth anniversary”.


Further, KP Ratnam added, “Shri Visvanatham has stated only now that some people celebrate the first day of Thai as the birth anniversary of Valluvar in Tamil Nadu. But the magazines which profess Puritanical Thamizh, Dravidian ideology, Vaidika concepts have all lent support to us giving great motivation and encouragement, and not one wrote to me against Vaikaasi Anusham and requested adoption of the first day of Thai month.”


Moreover, it must be noted that in 1935, all Tamil Scholars, cutting across religious, political and caste affiliations, celebrated Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary on Vaikaasi Anusham. Many political leaders such as EVR Periyar, CN Annadurai have participated in those celebrations. There was nothing at that time to show that either Visvanatham had objected to the Vaikaasi Anusham celebrations or requested to celebrate on Thai-1.


Ratnam’s letter adds, “The new concept of celebrating Thiruvalluvar Day on Thai-1 never appeared to be an alternative for Vaikaasi-Anusham then. Those who claim to serve the interests of Tamils ought to pave way for unity and not indulge in mudslinging, leading to creation of differences. This would be accepted by Shri Vishvanatham too. It is unfortunate that we have come to such a stage where, instead of adhering to the great deeds of our forefathers and follow in their footsteps, we are hell bent in destroying the unity of our race, thus inviting great blame and decay. We should attempt to change this situation at least now”.


Pandit KP Ratnam’s letter to Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham exposes the fact that there are always people who impede good actions. Celebrating Thai-1 as Thiruvalluvar Day is against tradition and against the opinion of Maraimalai Adigal who had established the Thiruvalluvar Era.


Anomaly behind ‘Thai’ Month


There is an anomaly behind having Thai-1/2 as the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar. The conclusion arrived at by Maraimalai Adigal after painstaking research was that Thiruvalluvar was born 30 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and based on that he established the Thiruvalluvar Era. He also arrived at the conclusion that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birthday of Thiruvalluvar. It is intriguing that people like Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham and M Karunanidhi reject Thiruvalluvar’s birth day while accepting his birth year, both being confirmed findings of Maraimalai Adigal. What else can one infer other than ‘self interest’ as the reason behind their stand!  


Tamils world over celebrate Thai-1 as Pongal festival attaching importance to agriculture. As the focus will be on Pongal, the significance of Thiruvalluvar Day may lose its sheen, and hence, the TN government in the seventies shifted its stand and announced ‘Thai-2’ as Thiruvalluvar Day. Since then the government has been celebrating 2nd day of Tamil month Thai as Thiruvalluvar Day.


However, this day is celebrated by Tamils world over as Mattu Pongal, attaching significance to worshipping and thanking their cattle wealth which help their progress in agriculture. In fact, Pongal is celebrated for four days, the first day being “Bogi”, second day being “Pongal”, third day being “Mattu Pongal” and the last being “Kanum Pongal”. Moreover, in many households, people include various types of meats, liquor and even cigars while performing poojas on Mattu Pongal and Kanum Pongal. Thiruvalluvar in his Thirukkural talks about the evils of eating meat (Pulan Maruthal – Rejecting Meat) and drinking liquor (Kal Unnaamai – Abstain from Liquor) in separate chapters with ten couplets each. So, it is an irony that the government chose to name Mattu Pongal as the birth anniversary of a sage who advocated vegetarianism and advised people to stay away from liquor, and stood against all kinds of vices throughout his life.


Further, the government doesn’t celebrate Thiruvalluvar Day with the required significance. It is an exercise in tokenism. Thiruvalluvar is neither extolled nor hailed. The government just awards some Tamil litterateurs who are favourably disposed towards the ruling dispensation in a listless ceremony and there ends the matter.    


Although the Rationalists claim they do not subscribe to the sanctity of the planetary system, they cannot reject the existence of Sun, Moon and the stars. Those who are learned about the ways of Tamils of yore, their histories, principles and traditions, would vouch for the fact that Tamils of the Sangam age celebrated festivals based on the stars alone. Ancient Tamils celebrated their birth stars as evidenced by Tholkaappiyam. Works like Muthollaayiram contain verses which announce the stars of the three great Tamil dynasties namely Chera, Chola and Pandiya. This can be seen in the explanation of 36th sutra in Tholkaapiyam by name Purathinai. Celebrating the star alone is Tamil tradition and celebrating the day is an alien tradition.


Our ancestors excelled in calculating time based on days and planets. They were called as Kaniyar and it is their discovery which is known as Panchangam, even today. Panchangam is hailed as “Aindhu Kelvi” by the great Tamil epic Silappadhikaaram.


Leave alone the first day of Thai month, even the first days of other Tamil months cannot be known without the help of the Panchangam. This fact should be borne in mind. The days of Pongal festival like the first of Thai and the second of Thai are celebrated for various reasons. We are aware that the birth anniversaries of avatars like Buddha, Mahavira and Sankara are celebrated on separate days. Similarly, a separate day is required to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar.


Placing our divine sage Thiruvalluvar along with those avatars, we have to celebrate the day of his birth on a separate day. We ought not to confuse it with the days of Pongal festival. Only on the basis of such empirical reasoning has the Thiruvalluvar Temple been celebrating the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham for hundreds of years. Realising this, Maraimalai Adigal, Thiru. Vi. Ka., Periyar, Anna and others accepted to celebrate the star day as birth anniversary. They knew well that celebrating star is an ancient Tamil tradition. Hence, all Tamils, without reservations, should celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham.


Our humble appeals


Here is our appeal to former Chief Minister and DMK President Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi:



It is only you who introduced the Thiruvalluvar year to the Tamil community and it has taken firm roots. However, not just Maraimalai Adigal, even after celebrating the birth day of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham by the likes of Periyar and Anna, you rejected their practice and adopted Pongal day. It is still mystifying as to why you did so. We do not wish to enter into researching your point of contention, as we are aware that you would be ready with an explanation for that too. Tamilnadu is well aware of the fact that if you commit an error in your public life, and if one were to point it out with suitable evidences and proofs, you would not accept the error in an honorable way, and on the contrary, would indulge in justifying it with explanations.


In that manner, it would be better if you refrain from making explanations and simply follow the recommendations of Anna, Periyar, Maraimalai Adigal,, Naavalar, Bharathiyar, Kunrakudi Adigalar, Ka. Namachivaya Mudaliyar, Dr. Mu.Va, Dr. U.Ve.Sa., A Ramaswamy Mudaliyar and others, who are to your liking. We request you to issue an appeal to the Tamil people asking them to celebrate the birth anniversary of Thiruvalluvar on Vaikaasi Anusham at least in the days to come. If you were to make such an appeal, your respect and stature would rise to the heights of a palm tree and not be reduced to even an iota.




Here is our appeal to Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri Panneer Selvam and former Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary Selvi Jayalalithaa:


Sir / Madame,

Realizing the truth in the information contained in this Paper, hence forth the second day of Thai (Mattu Pongal) should not be celebrated as Thiruvalluvar Day by the Tamilnadu government, and on the contrary, a government order needs to be issued stating that it would be celebrated on Vaikaasi Anusham. By doing this, the error committed in the past would be rectified and the future made to correct the error. If you were to issue such an order, not only would you earn merit of correcting a historic blunder, but you would earn a firm place of honour in the history of Tamil culture and tradition, as honourable as the one which you earned by repealing the Tamil New Year Ordinance promulgated by the DMK government. 


Our actions so far in this regard


 A detailed letter was written to former Chief Minister and DMK President Dr. Kalaignar Karunanidhi on 11 April 2012.


A detailed OP-ED Column was written, published in Tamil Daily “Dinamani” dated 14 April 2012.


DMK President in his “Open Letter” in his party organ “Murasoli” dated 22 April 2012, made a passing mention about the OP-ED Column in Dinamani and refrained from giving a straightforward reply to the pointed questions.


A letter to Director, Department of Tamil Development, Government of Tamil Nadu was sent on 25 May 2014.


We received a reply from Director, Department of Tamil Development, Government of Tamil Nadu, through his letter dated 30 June 2014, requesting proofs and evidences for our contention that Vaikaasi-Anusham is the birth day of Sage Poet Thiruvalluvar.


A reply was sent to Director, Department of Tamil Development on 14 July 2014 citing various proofs and evidences. We also attached a letter from Sri S Ramachandran, epigraphist (retd from State Archaeological Department) giving various facts with regard to the Thiruvalluvar Temple, Mylapore.


We sent another letter in continuation of the previous one on 16 July 2014 to the Director, Department of Tamil Development attaching the article published in Tamil daily “Dinamalar” and reproduced by Tamil fortnightly “Hindu Mithran”. We attached a copy of the photograph of the sculpture of Thiruvalluvar which was unearthed during the renovation done in 1973. We also cited various other evidences substantiating the fact that Vaikaasi-Anusham was the birth day of Thiruvalluvar.


We sent a third letter on 18 July 2014 to Director, Department of Tamil Development, in continuation of the previous two letters, attaching a copy of the OP-ED article published by Tamil daily “Dinamani” on 14 April 2012. We reiterated the salient features of our previous letters.


We sent a fresh letter on 22 July 2014 to the Secretary, Department of Tamil Development citing the various communications we had with the Director, Department of Tamil Development.


We sent a representation to the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 15 August 2014, referring to our various communications with the Department of Tamil Development and requesting her to declare Vaikaasi-Anusham as the birth day of Sage Thiruvalluvar and observing it as “India Ethics Day”.


We sent a letter to Sri Poonkunran, personal secretary to the Chief Minister, on 17 November 2014, citing the important facts and evidences with regards to the issue and also referring to our various earlier communications, and requesting him to do the needful.




As the Center has declared a nationwide celebration of Thiruvalluvar’s birth anniversary from 2015 onwards every year, we feel this is a great opportunity for the Central and State Governments to correct the historical wrong committed four decades back. Tamils all over the world would be forever grateful. 



Professor Sami Thiagarajan is President of the Dravidian Intellectual Forum, Chennai; BR Gauthaman is Director of the Vedic Science Research Center, Chennai

Translation: R Sudarshan & BR Haran

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