TN govt declares 'Thai Poosam' a public holiday

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(Eds: Adds reaction) Chennai, Jan 5 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Tuesday said he has ordered public holiday for 'Thai Poosam,' a festival dedicated to worship of Lord Muruga.

Palaniswami said during his tour of several districts, people made representations, urging him to declare Thai Poosam a public holiday and they pointed to the annual spiritual event being a holiday in Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

'Considering their representations, I have ordered declaration of Thai Poosam festival on January 28 (in 2021) a public holiday and for including it in the list of public holidays for the years to come,' he said in an official release.

BJP Tamil Nadu unit president L Murugan welcomed the move and thanked Palaniswami for accepting his party's appeal and declaring the annual festival a holiday.

It may be recalled that devotees had for a long time requested the government to declare 'Thai Poosam' a public holiday and Murugan too had made the demand during his party's recent 'Vetri Vel Yatra.' Naam Tamilar Katchi top leader Seeman welcomed the announcement and said the government has accepted his long- time demand and tagged a photograph of his petition to the Chief Minister.

Hindu outfits including Hindu Makkal Katchi welcomed the announcement.

The Chief Minister said among the festivals in Tamil Nadu dedicated for the worship of 'Tamil God Lord Muruga,' Thai Poosam is very important.

Besides Tamil Nadu, Thai Poosam is celebrated in neighbouring Kerala and in foreign countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius and Indonesia, he said in an official release.

Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius are home to a big chunk of Tamil speaking people.

Thai Poosam is celebrated in Tamil month of 'Thai' (between Jan 14 and Feb 12) when the star 'Poosam' falls on full moon day.

According to Shaivite tradition, Thai Poosam festival commemorates the presentation of a spear, 'Vel' (in Tamil) to Lord Muruga by his mother Goddess Parvathi with which he destroyed evil forces and the festival symbolised victory of good over evil.

The festival, considered auspicious, is important in the Tamil, Shaivite calendar. Devotees celebrate the festival also to offer thanksgiving and like Tamil Nadu, it is hugely popular among the Tamil diaspora.

Lord Muruga came under political gaze after the BJP and right wing groups took up the belittling of 'Kanda Sashti Kavacham,' a hymn in praise of the God, also hailed as Karthikeya and Subramanya by a fringe group 'Karuppar Kootam.' Its functionaries were arrested after complaints from BJP and other right wing groups over disparaging remarks on Kavacham and a YouTube Channel ran by it was blocked following police action.

Also, BJP came out with 'Vetri Vel Yatra' claiming to 'expose' those behind disparaging the hymn, held sacred by devotees. The saffron party's Tamil Nadu unit chief Murugan had time and again alleged that the main opposition DMK had supported that group.

Though the state-wide BJP campaign was not allowed by the government due to coronavirus pandemic during November- December last year, the party held public meetings at multiple locations and courted arrest under the banner of 'Vetri Vel Yatra.'PTI VGN ROH SS PTI PTI