What is Sengol, the historic sceptre to be placed in new Parliament building?

The Sengol was received by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 14 August 1945 and symbolised the transfer of power from the British Raj. 

sengol new parliament building
PM Narendra Modi will place the Sengol in the new Parliament building on May 28.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates the new Parliament building on May 28, the event will also witness the installation of a ‘Sengol’, a historic golden sceptre near the Speaker’s seat, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on Wednesday.

This sceptre, Shah said, was received by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 14 August 1945 and symbolised the transfer of power from the British Raj. 

Shah said the plan to include the ‘Sengol’ in the event came after PM Modi found out about its historical significance and chose the Parliament’s inauguration day as the ideal occasion to present it to the nation, according to Union Minister Amit Shah.

The ‘Sengol’, has its roots in Tamil culture and the word means “full of wealth”.

“On 14 August 1945, around 10:45 pm, Nehru accepted this sengol from the people of Tamil Nadu. It is a sign of a shift of power from the Britishers to the people of this country,” Shah said as he spoke to the media about the inauguration.

According to the home minister, the history and significance of the ‘sengol’, was not known to many and it has great significance in India, especially in Tamil culture. It dates back to the Chola dynasty, when such sceptres were used in the coronation of kings. It served as a ceremonial spear and was considered a sacred symbol of authority, representing the transfer of power from one ruler to the next. The one accorded the ‘sengol’ is expected to impart a just and impartial rule.

Its installation in the new parliament, Shah said, was an attempt to link our cultural traditions with our modernity. The plan to install the sengol in the new parliament also reflects the far-sightedness of Prime Minister Modi, Shah added.

The sengol is now at a museum in Allahabad from where it will be brought to its new address – the new parliament building.

The history of the ‘Sengol’

It all began with Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, asking Nehru to choose a symbol to  mark the historic moment of India’s Independence.

Nehru sought the advice of C Rajapogalachari, the last Governor-General of India, who suggested that Nehru could mark the moment by holding the ‘sengol’.

Creation of the ‘Sengol’

Rajagopalachari, also known as Rajaji, said that this tradition was followed during the rule of the Cholas. Rajaji, who was given the responsibility to arrange for the sengol,  contacted Thiruvaduthurai Atheenam, a prominent centuries-old mutt, in Tanjore in present-day Tamil Nadu. The seer of the mutt agreed to arrange for the sengol.

The gold-plated silver ‘sengol’ was reportedly designed by Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, a jeweller in what was then known as Madras. It is five feet in length and has a “Nandi” bull (the vahan of Lord Shiva) on top, symbolising justice and strength, as reported by Firstpost.

After the ‘sengol’ was ready, a senior priest gave it to Mountbatten. It was then taken back and sprinkled with Gangajal, and taken to Nehru in a procession. It was handed over before midnight on the eve of independence.

A special song was composed and rendered as the sceptre was received in the presence of Dr Rajendra Prasad and several other leaders.

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First published on: 24-05-2023 at 16:40 IST