Historic Sceptre, ‘Sengol’, To Be Placed In New Parliament Building
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will install the historic golden scepter near the Speaker’s seat at the inauguration of the new Parliament building this Sunday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said today. Mr Shah said the scepter was handed over to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to mark the transfer of power from the British to Indians. The scepter is called “sengol” – derived from the Tamil word “semmai” which means “justice”, the home minister said.
The scepter came about after a chain of events that began with a simple question from Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of British India, to Prime Minister Nehru. According to historical accounts and news reports, Mountbatten had asked the soon-to-be Prime Minister what would mark the transfer of power when India became independent.
Prime Minister Nehru turned to C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor General of the country, for advice. Mr. Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, told Prime Minister Nehru about the Tamil tradition of handing over the scepter to a new king when the chief priest came to power. Rajaji said that this tradition was followed during the rule of the Cholas and that it would mark India’s independence from Rajya. It fell on Rajaji to arrange a scepter for the historic moment.
The Making of Scepter
Faced with the daunting task of arranging a scepter to symbolize India’s independence, Rajaji contacted Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a prominent monastery in present-day Tamil Nadu. The then Brahmin of the Mutt took charge. The scepter was made byVummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweler in Chennai at the time. It is five feet long and has the bull ‘Nandi’ which represents justice.
According to reports, the senior priest of the monastery first handed over the scepter to Mountbatten and later took it back. Gangajal was then sprinkled and taken in procession to Prime Minister Nehru and handed over to him 15 minutes before the midnight of India’s independence. A special song was composed when Prime Minister Nehru received the sceptre.
Scepter’s Place in the New Parliament
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The home minister said that not many people know the history and significance of the sceptre. He said its installation in the new parliament was an attempt to connect our cultural heritage with our modernity. Mr. Shah said that the plan to install the scepter in the new Parliament also reflects the vision of Prime Minister Modi. The scepter is now in a museum in Allahabad, from where it will be brought to its new address, Parliament.
Responding to questions from the media, Mr Shah insisted that the scepter should not be linked to politics. “We want the administration to operate under the rule of law and this will always remind us,” he said. Now in a museum in Allahabad, the scepter installed in Parliament draws attention to a forgotten chapter of history.