In 1935, many Tamil scholars gathered at Pachaiyappan College in then Madras in the presence of Maraimalai Adigalar and unanimously agreed to the proposal and decided that month ‘Thai’ 1 (January 14) as the Tamil New Year. Later, based on the birth of Thiruvalluvar, the Tamil language’s greatest historical poet-philosopher, a resolution to celebrate a day known as ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’ by all Tamils was passed during the same year. Meanwhile, the Karunanidhi-led government of Tamil Nadu has been implementing the Thiruvalluvar year since 1972 in government documents and gazettes. Thiruvalluvar year is an officially recognised Tamil calendar system for use in Tamil Nadu.
When comparing it with the widely used Gregorian calendar, the Thiruvalluvar year will have an additional 31 years. For instance, the year 2021 in the Gregorian calendar way is 2052 in the Thiruvalluvar year.
Subsequently, during the Karunanidhi-led DMK regime of 2006-2011, the Tamil New Year began on ‘Thai’ 1 of Thiruvalluvar year in 2008. The DMK government announced that the Tamil New Year will be rightly celebrated on ‘Thai’ 1 (January 14).
But the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK government that came to power in 2011 announced that the Tamil New Year would begin in the month of ‘Chithirai’ 1. While speaking in the Assembly, Jayalalithaa said, “There is no evidence that the Tamil New Year begins in January-mid (‘Thai’ 1). But, there are many sources and evidences that prove Tamil New Year begins in April-mid (‘Chithirai’ 1)’.”
She alleged that Karunanidhi brought the law for his self-promotion and she announced that the law which was brought to hurt the feelings of the people has been repealed.
Following this, as the AIADMK has been in power for 10 consecutive years, the Tamil New Year is being celebrated on ‘Chithirai’ 1 (April 14) as per the announcement of the Tamil Nadu government.
Eventually, the MK Stalin-led DMK government, coming into power after a decade was expected to announce the Tamil New Year on ‘Thai’ 1. However, the government has announced the public holiday dates for the upcoming year 2022 on November 2, in which on a surprising note, it has been mentioned that ‘Chithirai’ 1 has been specified as Tamil New Year.
Meanwhile, this has pulled in netizens to debate on how the DMK government has announced ‘Chithirai’ 1 as Tamil New Year.
Some groups evince that ‘Chithirai’ 1 as Tamil New Year citing various data.
According to every Gregorian year, ‘Chithirai’ 1 usually falls on April 13 or 14. For many years, Tamil New Year has been celebrated on ‘Chithirai’ 1 by Tamils living across the world. Some data claim that ‘Chithirai’ 1 is celebrated as the start of Tamil New Year only based on astronomical reasons and not based on any religious reasons.
For the earth to orbit around the Sun, it takes 365 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 48 seconds. It has been calculated by the zodiac sign that the Sun leaves Pisces and enter the first zodiac sign Aries (Mesha Raasi) usually on April 13 or 14 every year, which marks the start of Tamil New Year, the data reveals. Alike many other new years, Sikh New Year (Vaisaki) and others, Tamil New Year also fall on the same day ‘Chithirai’ 1 (April-mid).
Some groups claim ‘Thai 1 has been observed as Tamil New Year centuries ago. During ‘Thai’ month (January), farmers in Tamil Nadu start harvesting their crops. Thus as a sign of thanking, they worship the Sun on that day which is still celebrated as Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu and among Tamil people’s community across the world’. Furthermore, they claim that ‘Chithirai is a Sanskrit word and the people who belonged to Sanskrit changed Tamil New Year from ‘Thai’ 1 to ‘Chithirai’ 1.
As so many Tamil scholars and leaders fought to reinstall ‘Thai’ 1 as Tamil New Year over decades but former CM Jayalalithaa again made ‘Chithirai’ 1 the Tamil New Year’.
The history behind Tamil New Year that Tamil scholars quote: ‘Malaipadukadaam’- a Tamil poem mentions that during the start of ‘Chithirai’ month, the prickly padauk would start blooming and that was considered the easy way to calculate the start of New Year.
In the meantime, Tamil literature ‘Nedunalvaadai’ mentions that Aries is the first Zodiac Month from which the Sun transits from Pisces and enters the Aries. Moreover, the Tamil calendar is based on the solar system and it is based on raasi chakra.