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No unconstitutionality in changing Tamil New Year, says High Court

Staff Reporter

“Expert committee could suggest changes in 60-year cycle of Tamil calendar”

MADURAI: There is no unconstitutionality or illegality in the State legislation to change Tamil New Year from the first day of the Tamil month of Chithirai (mid-April) to first of Thai (mid-January), the Madras High Court has ruled.

Dismissing a writ petition filed in the Madurai Bench by Tamil Nadu Muruga Baktha Peravai, Justice K. Chandru said that it was not new for the government to change its calendar or adopt a particular calendar for its working.

He recalled that the State government had adopted Tiruvalluvar Era as the basis of its official calendar only after the advent of the Constitution. Earlier, the land of Tamils had seen adoption of Salivakhana Era, Hijiri Era, Christian Era and Sakha Era.

“The present land in which the Tamils are living was overrun many times by different rulers professing different faiths. Depending upon the desire or decree by the rulers, the calculation of years by era had changed from time to time,” he said.

The petitioner had attacked the legislation on the ground that Tamils believed that Lord Brahma had created the world on the first of Chithirai. It was also submitted that the Tamil Hindu calendar with a cycle of 60 years followed ‘Nirayana’ vernal equinox.

To this, the Judge said it was “most unfortunate” that the petitioner had attempted to bring a religious flavour to the issue by claiming that the right to offer special worship in temples on the first day of Chithirai was an essential religious practice. “It should be proudly noted that Tamilians all over the world, irrespective of their religious affinity such as Hindus, Muslims, Christians and even non-believers celebrate the Tamil New Year without any discrimination or religious fervour,” he said.

Mr. Justice Chandru pointed out that there was great debate regarding the origin of the 60-year-cycle and how it contained Sanskrit names for each year.

“This had not been explained by any scholar so far. Therefore the debate is inconclusive.” He suggested that the government consider appointing an expert committee to suggest and make changes in the cycle of 60 years of Tamil calendar.

A majority of the people in the Indian sub-continent adjusted their linguistic calendars with a cycle of 365 days only after the entry of Westerners and the introduction of a calendar based on Christian Era.

“Even some months in the Tamil calendar were made to have 32 to 33 days in making such adjustments. But at the same time, they fixed the dates of festivals and rituals based upon the position of sighting of moon (lunar calendar),” he added.

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