Karthick Pugazhenthi & Kiruba Munusamy
In the recent times, whenever I talk about Thirunelveli, the immediate response I get is this:
“Is it? Your place is very famous for Thamirabarani Maha Pushkaram, right? Are you going to the Pushkaram?
What is that Pushkaram – Pushkar?
Starting from Thamirabarani in the southern tip of India, there are few perennial rivers such as Sindhu, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Ravi, Beas, Jhelum and Chenab. Of these, Sindhu, Ganges, Yamuna, Narmada, Sarasvati, Krishna, Godavari, Kaveri, Brahmaputra, Tungabhadra, Pranahita are considered holy rivers (Tirthas) as they are delineated so in Hindu mythologies. Hence, as a religious belief, Hindus worship these rivers by sprinkling flowers and lighting camphor and this practice is called Pushkaram.
Worshipping rivers is an ancient practice that exists in our country. There is a local saying that ‘River Thamirabarani will overflow a day and this world will be fed with its prosperity then’. The very basis of Thirunelveli is embedded in the banks of Thamirabarani. Even today, you can witness people who have merged themselves with the river and the city there. It is a river that has taken part in most of its people’s day-to-day struggles without any difference among them.
And the Pushkar festival is going to be held for such a river Thamirabarani after 144 years. But, is the Hindu tale of ‘Thamirabarani Pushkaram’ that took place 144 years ago during the transit of Jupiter from zodiac sign Scorpio to Cancer true?
The Pushkar event in the river Thamirabarani is mainly organized by the administrators of Kanchi Hindu Monastery (Mutt). They are the ones who are constructing the fake history of “Pushkar after 144 years” upon the river Thamirabarani. It is not at all a matter for these people to construct such a fake history as they have been already well versed in spreading lies. Kanchi Mutt has been proclaiming that its origin dates back to 5th century BC which is not true.
We are in 2018 now. According to their claim, if this Pushkaram event had held 144 years back, it should have happened in 1874. If the history of Thirunelveli few years before and after, that is between 1870 to 1875 is read, their entire story and disinformation will be accomplished false.
From October to November 1870, J.R. Arputha Nath was the acting District Collector of Thirunelveli District. Then, R.K. Bakkil took over the charge as Thirunelveli District Collector from 16 November 1870 to 27 February 1874. Following him, W.A. Hebbal and W.H. Commin took charge as acting District Collectors in the same year due to administrative reasons, respectively.
On 5th October 1875, J.P. Bennington was appointed as Thirunelveli District Collector succeeding Hebbal. But, because of the delay in bringing entire Thirunelveli under his direct control, the district functioned without District Collector for 13 days. However, the post of District Collector did not come into order despite the appointment of A.J. Stuart as acting Collector on 18 October, 1875.
In these circumstances, no reference about the happening of Thamirabarani Pushkar or orders granting permission for the holding of the event is found in any of the records of the above District Collectors. Rather, there are records about the cycle of floods in Thamirabarani river that occurred thrice in the years 1869, 1874 and 1877 respectively and the consequent breakage of its dikes.
In the years 1869-74, the southern part of the then integrated Thirunelveli such as Alwar Thirunagari, Thiruvaikundam, Attur faced immeasurable damages due to the floods caused by the Northeast monsoon rainfall. In 1877, water reservoirs in Korkkai and Korampallam have broken. Finely, it is known from the Gazettes of Tirunelveli Volume-I that the period from 1868 to 1874 seem to be a span of Thamirabarani disaster.
In particular, a note about the flood damages in 1874 states that “on 24 November, Palayamkottai is prepared to face another flood. It is just 3 feet lesser than the 1869 flood. Tirunelveli Krishnapperi reservoir has reached its full capacity. The overflow of Nayinarkulam is frightening. Nellai and Palayamkottai have lost its connection completely. Over 200 houses and many people living in the intermediate areas are facing great struggles. However, there is no loss of life”.
But, the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham (Mutt) is carrying out its false propaganda that it was during this period that Thamirabarani Maha Pushkar was held.
Even if the district gazette is considered to be lying, at least, the then Sudarshan Maha Devendra Saraswathi (1851 to 1891) who came to be the sixth chief of the Kanchi Peetham may have told the truth. But, his story, as per the records, states that he was imprisoned by his paternal uncle Ganapathy Sastri, who monitored the accounts of the Mutt, with the help of the King of Tanjore for unaccountable expenditure of the monastery funds and also that he went fast in the prison. Nowhere in any of the Kanchi Mutt records, the happening of Thamirabarani Pushkaram is found. It is because of the fact that it did not happen at all.
While that being so, it is important to note why they are trying to inculcate a 144 years sacred identity upon Thamirabarani? This is where the religious organizations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad implement their Hinduising agenda. They will first start declaring a lie to be a fact and the Brahminical media will support them by propagating that lie through repeated reporting. Then people will begin believing that to be a truth.
Though it is public’s taxes that are spent for the renovation of the riverbanks, river ports, temples and roads for the best happening of the Maha Pushkar event, in the end, it is for the successful implementation of their malicious agenda to imbue Hindu religious identities everywhere. They will eventually saffronize the identities of marginalized and minorities such as folk deities, mosques, churches and the worship of nature. Otherwise how the mythical astronomical deities of Hinduism would have taken their places in the Ayyanar (guardian deity of the non-brahmins) temples?
Thamirabarani is a standing place for the oldest civilization in the world. Adichanallur archaeological excavations are just its residue. In such a historical place, Brahmanism is trying to address its political needs through saffronization and imposition of Hindu religious identity to those that have cultural connection with the indigent people.
If we say this to our people, they will simply ignore saying that “anyhow our city is renovated, let them do!”. It is embarrassment that remains on attempting to explain. Hindu religious bigots pelt stones on the significant signs of our villages, cities and the nation to instill their religious identities during the vibrance of it that we never notice. From Ganges to Kanyakumari, they did so and will continue to do so.
While river Thamirabarani and the city Thirunelveli is ours, for whose benefit the event is celebrated upon the construction of lies? I am writing this for the sake of having at least one single opposing write up. I hereby thank my friend Prakash for asking me to write about this!
This article is written by Karthick Pugazhenthi in Tamil and translated to English by Kiruba Munusamy.
Karthick Pugazhenthi Journalist & Publisher. Kiruba Munusamy, Lawer at Supreme court & Activist.