New Parliament Building: What is the ‘Sengol’?

The New Parliament Building is a part of the Central Vista Redevelopment Project which is an ambitious project of the Union government.

The sengol was handed over to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to mark the transfer of power from British to Indians.

The word is derived from the Tamil ‘semmai’ meaning ‘righteousness.’

Hammurabi, King of the Old Babylonian Empire with scepter in hand

The History of the Sengol

The sengol came into being after a chain of events that started with a simple question by Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of British India, to Prime Minister Nehru.

According to historical accounts, Lord Mountbatten asked Mr Nehru what would mark the transfer of power when India attains Independence.

Prime Minister Nehru then turned to C Rajagopalachari, the country’s last Governor General, for advice. Mr Rajagopalachari told Prime Minister Nehru about the Tamil tradition of the high priest handing over a sceptre to a new king when he comes to power.

This tradition dates to the reign of the Cholas and suggested this could mark India’s freedom from the Raj. He then arranged a sceptre for the historic moment. 

S Gurumurthy. Twitter.

The making and appearance of sengol

The sengol was made by Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweller in Chennai (then Madras). The golden sceptre is five feet in length and has a ‘nandi‘ bull on top, symbolizing justice.

According to reports, a senior priest from the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam, a five-hundred-year old monastery first handed over the sceptre to Mountbatten. It was then sprinkled with gangajal (holy water from the river Ganges) and taken in a procession to be handed over to newly-elected Prime Minister Nehru.

A special song was composed and rendered as Prime Minister Nehru received the sceptre, minutes before India attained freedom at midnight.

Place in new Parliament building

The ceremony was conducted as per Tamil traditions and the sengol was handed over to Nehru at his house.

Home Minister Amit Shah observed that the transfer of power must be in keeping with local traditions.

Sengol represents the same feeling that Jawaharlal Nehru felt on August 14, 1947,’ he said. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will install the sengol in the new Parliament building on May 28.

Mr Shah stressed that the Sengol should not be linked to politics.

‘We want the administration to run by the rule of law and this will always remind us of that.’

Many opposition parties have boycotted the inauguration.

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