TAMIL NEW YEAR: The day should be one of unity without religious connotation
I REFER to the letter "Correcting wrong info is never a sin" by Ariff Shah (NST, April 19).
He gave examples of some of the ancient Hindu rishi and pioneers in mathematics, science, aviation and medicine whose contributions were significant to the world of knowledge.
Ariff was responding to the letter from Datuk A. Vaithilingam "What matters is the celebration" (NST, April 13). Vaithilingam wanted unity among Tamils as there is controversy regarding the day on which the Tamil New Year falls.
This controversy flared up again after the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalitha rescinded an order of the previous government and declared the first day of the month of Chithirai as the Tamil New Year instead of the first day of Thai. The previous government under the then chief minister M.Karunanithi had declared Thai Pongal as the Tamil New Year.
Unlike other linguistic groups of India, the Tamils have a rich cultural heritage of sangam literature and that is how Tamil was declared a classical language last year.
Dr M. Varatharajan, the renowned Tamil scholar and novelist, has stated that in the early period, Tamils celebrated Thai as their new year.
There are Tamil Hindus, Tamil Muslims, Tamil Christians, Tamil Buddhists and also Tamil atheists. We all need a common Tamil New Year without any religious tag attached to it. This is the reason Thamizhavel K. Sarangapani advocated that the festival for Tamils in Singapore and Malaysia be celebrated as the Tamil New Year on the first day of Thai. He called it a festival of unity for all Tamils.