Kept in Allahabad museum among Nehru’s items, how Sengol returned to limelight

Kept in Allahabad museum among Nehru’s items, how Sengol returned to limelight

By Pramod Madhav: In 1947, when the British transferred power to Indians, the momentous occasion was symbolized by the handing over of a Sengol (sceptre) to first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Seventy-five years after the historic occasion, the Sengol is set to take pride of place in the new Parliament building. But what happened to the sceptre in the years between the two events?

Speaking to India Today, Udhay Vummidi, son of Vummidi Ethirajulu who played a major part in Sengol’s creation, said, “We didn’t know where it was for a long time. We recovered it after a long time thanks to the media and to PM Modi. The prime minister had reached out and asked about Sengol…It was reviving our own memories.”

“Sengol was not lost. It went down memory lane. So we didn’t know where it was. Thanks to the media, it was revived and then one of our family clans made the effort to backtrack and see it in Allahabad, sending people there, and going through the whole process,” Udhay Vummidi said.

The historical Sengol, received by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, symbolised the transfer of power from the British to India in 1947. It is set to be installed in the new Parliament building on May 28 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The majestic 5 feet-long Sengol was commissioned by Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam in Tamil Nadu (then Madras Presidency) on the request of C Rajagopalachari to denote the transfer of power in 1947. The Adheenam’s pontiff had entrusted the family of Vummidi Bangaru Chetty to create it. Vummidi Ethirajulu and Vummidi Sudhakar played a major part in Sengol’s creation.

Amarendran Vummidi, the great-grandson of Vummidi Bangaru Chetty, stated that Sengol was created in less than 30 days.

“We were entrusted with creating the Sengol as we had experience in creating ornaments for deities which included special poojas and following certain principles. The entire Sengol was covered with a thick sheet of gold weighing 100 sovereigns”, stated Amarendran.

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Standing next to a replica of the Sengol, Amarendran said that the sceptre resembles the power in the hands of a king who rules the land and signifies a ‘just’ rule.

“Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam was a Shaivite math, the Nandi on top of the Sengol signified a just rule,” said Amarendran.

He said that Sengol was chosen as the object denoting ‘transfer of power’ as it was a practice among the Chera, Chola, Pandiyar and Pallava dynasties that ruled Tamil Nadu.

Adheenam’s pontiff, Sri La Sri Kumaraswamy Thambiran, was tasked with going to Delhi with the Sengol and conducting the ceremonies. He handed over the Sengol to Lord Mountbatten, who handed it back. The Sengol was then purified by sprinkling holy water on it. It was then taken to Nehru’s residence to conduct the ceremonies and hand over the Sengol to the new ruler.

After that, the Sengol ended in Allahabad Museum, along with other artifacts used by Jawaharlal Nehru. Photos from the Allahabad Museum showed the Sengol, which was mislabeled as the “Golden walking stick gifted to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru”.

(Image: India Today)
(Image: India Today)

Talking about the “mislabeling” of the Sengol, Udhay Vummidi said, “I have seen photographs of it. Mistakes happen.”

He expressed happiness that the Sengol was “beautifully preserved”.

The Sengol will be installed near the chair of the Lok Sabha Speaker on May 28, the same day the new Parliament building will be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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