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The ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ (hymn in praise of the Mother Tamil) was penned by Manonmaniam P. Sundaranar in the preface to his poetic drama ‘Manonmaniam’ published in 1891. The Karanthai Tamil Sangam demanded that the song, “neeraarum kadaluduththa nilamadanthai” (the earth personified as a woman wearing the garment of sea flush with water) should be sung at all functions in Tamil Nadu. Following the introduction of the Tamil panegyric at the organization’s events in 1914, demands to the Tamil Nadu government poured in from various quarters that the ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ be made the state song.

In 1960, Prof.S. Ilakkuvanar, then secretary to the Academy of Tamil scholars (Thamizhaga Pulavar Kuzhu), urged the government to fulfill the demand, but to no avail. But when he reiterated his demand to the state during his second term in the same position, the then Chief Minister and his student Kalaignar M Karunanidhi accepted the demand and announced on March 11, 1970 that the song would be sung as a hymn to Tamil at all government functions. However, close on the heels of the government initiative followed a controversy. Some groups objected to the lines that said Tamil was alive unlike Sanskrit that was dead. To pacify the detractors, the DMK government removed the controversial lines when sung in state functions.

The present DMK government, led by M. K. Stalin, on December 17 declared the ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ as state anthem  and released the G.O. in this regard.

Prof.S. Ilakkuvanar Thiruvalluvan, president, Tamil Protection Association

Ilakkuvanar Thiruvalluvan, president, Tamil Protection Association (Tamil kaappuk kazhagam), an outfit spearheading and propagating Tamil as an everyday language, speaks about the issue in the following interview.

Question: The government order now has made it mandatory for all educational institutions, government offices, and public sector units to play the ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ at functions where the attendees should stand to attention during the rendition of the song.  Organizers of private functions too will be motivated to conform to the stipulation. What is your opinion about this government order?

Answer: It’s an order that deserves congratulations. An order that enables  Mother Tamil to stand firm, holding her head high.

Q: Why do you say this?

A: In a case related to the ‘Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu’ issue, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court noted that there was no executive order nor an administrative one insisting on all standing to attention during the rendition of the song. But the government did not go on appeal against this verdict or criticised it. Noting the absence of a legislation, as pointed out by the court, the government has formulated an order and issued it now.

The order has, while making it mandatory for all to stand to attention during the rendition of the song, exempted the differently abled. A well trained singer must sing the song rather than play the recording, the order says. So, all are now bound by law to stand in honor of Mother Tamil. The case has, in fact, culminated in something good.  Now Mother Tamil, who faced humiliation in the hands of certain groups, is standing tall in glory. Hence, Chief Minister M.K.Stalin and Minister Thangam Thennarasu and all officials connected with the issue deserve our praises and gratitude. It is praise-worthy that the government remained unfazed by opposition from certain quarters and yet did not go out of its way to counter the opposition. Rather it has taken the trouble to find a solution to the issue, silencing detractors and critics.

During the rendition of the ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ at an event, some may mumble some Sanskrit song or some film lines or may curse under their breath if they are not standing up. This is unacceptable. The high court verdict was therefore wrong.

The present DMK government, led by M. K. Stalin, on December 17 declared the ‘Tamil Thai Vaazhthu’ as state anthem  and released the G.O. in this regard.

Q: Why do you say that some may curse Tamil?

A:  Their hereditary trait is to be anti-Tamil. They have spoken ill of the world renowned Tamil classic Tirukkural and launched a smear campaign or hate campaign against Tamil ethical values. How will such people and their descendants worship Mother Tamil? Will the heirs to those, who always asserted that only Sanskrit has magical divine power and opposed worshipping gods in Tamil, respect Tamil? Those who had said they never respected Mother Tamil (Tamil Thaai) won’t worship her with their eyes closed and sitting down.

 

Q: Even if it is wrong, what impact will such individuals make?

A: No. This is a wrong hypothesis. Such individuals and their supporters who are anti-Tamil to the core may portray those standing up for the song as a bad custom and this may catch on. I witnessed this tendency at an event  in Chennai just following that incident. While the ‘Tamil Thaai Vaazhthu’ was being played, the onlookers in the auditorium all stood up in a spirit of veneration,  but the key dignitaries sitting on the dais preferred to keep sitting as if deliberately avoiding the ritual. Seeing this some in the audience began to sit.  After the end of the event, I approached one of them, who was reputed to be serving Tamil, editing a newspaper, and told him, “If only you had stood to attention during the rendition of the Tamil hymn, others on the dais would have followed suit. Is it right that while claiming you’re doing great service to Tamil, you don’t respect Mother Tamil?”He said: “That’s  just a song.  So no need to stand up.”

This event takes the cake in the trend of Tamils ignoring their mother tongue while living on Tamil soil and earning through Tamil.

Q: What is your final take on this issue?

A: It was only to stop this rot that the government has come out with its order stipulating that all Tamils and non-Tamils living in Tamil Nadu respect Mother Tamil. Hence, once again, I convey my gratitude and regards to the Chief Minister and the Tamil Development Minister.


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