Thursday, 21 March 2013

Tamil New Year Date

There is an on going, never ending debate on Tamil New Year. It all started in the 20th century. The Theorist believe that the new year should be on 1st Thai, not 1st Cittirai. The Traditionalist choose to hold on to the existing date.

Before we dwell further into the topic. Let's look at some basics. We start with an introduction to the 12 Tamil months and the associated zodiacs. The Tamil calendar is a sidereal solar calendar.

Today, 21 March in the Gregorian calendar is also 8 paṅkuṉi in the Tamil calendar. The Traditionalist celebrate new year on 1 Cittirai. That usually falls on 13-14 April  each year. They also celebrate Ponggal on 1 Thai. The Traditionalist are the majority among the existing Tamil population.

The Theorist believes that the new year should be on 1 Thai, not 1 Cittirai. Which means Ponggal is new year for them when it is a harvest festival for the rest of the Tamils. They have their reasons.

Let's look at their reasons.

# 1. Maraimalai Adigal Conference
It is believed that Maraimalai Adigal had a conference with 500 scholars in  Pachaiyappa College back on 18-01-1935 . According to the Theorist, the conference concluded that Tamil new year should be celebrated on 1 Thai, not Chitirai. They also proposed that the calendar begins with the birth of Tiruvalluvar. It will be known as Tiruvalluvar Aandu (Tiruvalluvar Year).

Firstly, nobody knows the exact date of Tiruvalluvar's birth. Although many claim that he was born before Christ, nobody knows when exactly. There is no evidence to conclude his d.o.b. Even if they manage to find out his d.o.b, it does not matter to Tamil calendar.


Because we Tamils have been in existence for thousands of years even before Tiruvalluvar was born. So why should our calendar start with Tiruvalluvar when he was not even the pioneer of Tamil civilisation? We have been using the Tamil calendar before him. Tiruvalluvar did not kick start Tamil civilisation. Tamil was already an ancient civilisation by the time he was born.

Therefore, it is absurd to even have something called Tiruvalluvar Aandu. Many have also questioned this conference. If it was indeed a grand scale conference with 500 scholars, why the majority of Tamils never bothered to take it seriously?

The Government of Tamil Nadu under the leadership of Karunanidhi declared Thai as new year only in 2008 (Declaration Bill 2008). It was of course, overturned when the people voted his party out.

A conference with 500 scholars should have impacted the society in the 1930s itself. It should not have taken over 70 years for them to implement something if it is was really backed by solid evidence. This shows that there is something fishy about this whole conference.

Was it rejected by the Tamil majority themselves? I believe yes. None of my relatives celebrate new year on 1 Thai and I come from a clan with historical record of over 2,000 years. 

#2. Astronomy and seasons
Theorist also use astronomy and season to support their claim. According to them, new year should be on 1 Thai (around 15-17 Jan) because Chitirai is no longer the start of spring. 

The earth has 3 different types of motion. Motion around its axis, motion around the Sun, and motion of its axis due to wobbling of Earth.

It is believed that the wobbling causes differences in the arrival of season. The seasons fall back around one day for every 71.6 years. So in about 2,000 years, there could be a difference of about 27 days.

This is one excuse the Theorist give.

"Spring no longer arrives in mid April, it now arrives in mid March, so you Traditionalist are wrong to celebrate new year in mid April"

What the Theorist fail to realize is, our months are not dependent on seasons. This is because the seasons can always change. Furthermore, nowadays Tamils live in almost every country. When it is spring in the northern hemisphere, it may not be spring in the southern hemisphere. 

The change of seasons also does not give a reason to fix the date on 1 Thai. Because even if you fix the new year date on 1 Thai, seasons will eventually change again after a few decades. 

So will the Theorist change the date again after 71.6 years?

Since seasons change, we need something else as an anchor for our months. Something that is fixed. Something which can be used as a point of reference for thousands of years without interruption.

So what can it be?
Can it be zodiacs?

Yes! This is because the zodiacs are a fixed set of stars in the space. They don't change. This makes them perfect for calendars.

There are 12 known zodiacs. I have given the details in the picture above. The Tamils follow the sidereal calendar system, not the tropical calendar. Our ancestors have long ago decided that the year starts with Aries. Aries is known as Aadu Iyal or Mesham Raasi in Tamil and it is the first zodiacs.

Theorist rejected this. They claim that there is no evidence in ancient Tamil literature to support that the year begins with Aries. 

Truth is, there are references in Kootha Nool (by Saathanaar), Neduvelvaadai (by Nakeerar) and Purananooru (by Koodalor Keerar) which marks Aries as the beginning.

Since we follow the sidereal calendar and accept Aries as the first point, naturally our new year falls in mid April each year.

#3. Root of Tamil
Apart from these literature evidence, we need to look at another one. Something very very important which the Theorist often choose not to speak about. Not suprising because most of them happen to be Christians and Atheist (nothing against Christianity or Atheism. It is your choice).

It is generally accepted that the Tamil civilization is an ancient one. But who started it?

There must be someone.

Someone who lived many millenias before Tiruvalluvar himself.
Someone who would have been the Guru of the first Tamil dynasty, the Pandyan dynasty which had its original capital in the now sunken landmass of Kumari, south of India in the Indian Ocean.

Who else if it is not the great master, the grand sire, the pioneer who ignited Tamil civilisation, Agathiyar!

It is believed that Tamil was given to Agathiyar by Eesan himself. Eesan also known as Siva (and few thousand other names) is none other than the Almighty God himself.

The ancient Tamils were originally Siva worshippers. They believed that he is the source of everything. It was an era when there were no Christian, Muslim, Jain, or Buddhist Tamils. It was an era when all the Tamils believed in One God, Siva.

Agathiyar planted the seed of Tamil civilisation on Earth. Who exactly was Agathiyar?

A mystic man, siddhar, rishi, a superhuman from another dimension (ancient aliens theorist will be interested) etc.

Whoever he was, it was he who brought Tamil to this world. Whatever we know about Tamil or the Tamil world is post-Agathiyar period. It is so ancient that some of his works including the famed Agathiyam is lost.

Let's just put it this way. He is the like Prime source of Tamildom!

So this Agathiyar wrote on many things. He wrote something called Paneeraiyiram. In this work, he mentioned that the last month in Tamil calendar is Paṅkuṉi. Check the image above and you will come to realise that if Paṅkuṉi is the last month, naturally Chitirai becomes the first.

I told you earlier that the present government of Tamil Nadu (under Jayalalitha) overturned Karunanidhi's bill. One of their justification was the reference in Agathiyar's Paneeraiyiram.

So when the grand master himself made it clear on the calendar, who are the rest of us to simply change it?

The next time the Theorist speak about new year, ask them why none of them speak about Agathiyar.

#4. Is it a Hindu new year?
Chitirai 1 or April 14 is not a common Hindu new year. Simply because not all Hindus celebrate new year on this day. If it was a Hindu new year, every Hindu irrespective of language will celebrate it. But many Hindus like the Telugus and the Balinese celebrate their new year in mid March, not mid April like the Tamils.

But the Theorist still tag it as a Hindu new year. They claim that because of this factor, the Christian Tamils and Muslim Tamils cannot celebrate it.

Truth is there is no restriction. You can still celebrate it if you want to. Go to your church and mosques. Pray in your own way. Nobody will stop you. In fact everyone will be happy if you did that. But if the tenets of those religion forbid you from doing it, do not blame us for it.

You need to also realise that Christianity and Islam are not even the native religion of the Tamils. Ancient Tamils who lived thousands of years ago were mainly Siva worshippers. Even our geographical landscape was divided to 5 and each had a patron deity. Muruga, Kotravai (Durga), Varunan, Indran and Mal (Vishnu). Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam came much much later.

So it is not fair to demand that we Tamils change our new year date just because some chose to convert into these new faiths. You have the right to convert but you have no rights to change the foundation because of your new found faith.

Apart from this, the annual Panchangam (almanac) is read only on 1 Chitirai and not on 1 Thai. The Panchangam tells us about the astrological significance of the year, weather predictions and also the best time to plant and harvest.

These are my justifications on the new year date. 

The most important point to remember is our year starts with Aries and Aries starts in mid April, therefore that is our only new year date.

Let Ponggal remain as Ponggal on 1 Thai (mid Jan) and Puthandu remain as Puthandu on 1 Chitirai (mid Apr).

Instead of arguing and demanding to change the date, learn to work together with the rest. If you believe in unity of the Tamil people, drop the unnecessary fight on the new year date.

There are simply too many valid points for it to remain as 1 Chitirai. Whatever argument you may wish to bring, remember that you are actualy doing more damage than good for the Tamils.

We have already fixed the dates. Accept it and move on.

Click below to read The Science Behind Tamil Calendar