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Kashi-Tamil Sangamam: Retrieving the North-South oneness of Hindu civilisational history.

Kashi-Tamil Sangamam

Between India’s north and south, timeless bonds exist in Kashi in its rich intellectual wisdom and history of Hindu civilisation.

The month-long Tamil Kashi Sangamam (17 Nov-16 Dec) is an initiative to strengthen the bonds by focusing on connections between Tamil Nadu and Varanasi.

by L Murugan

The magnificence of India’s opulent civilisational and cultural history, which has remained a shining beacon for mankind over the ages, can never be overemphasised. India’s cultural-civilisational essence is blessed with a thread connecting the vast expanse from the south to the north, and from the east to west, on a continuous scale rooted in philosophical and spiritual foundations.

North and south India are sometimes mistakenly carved into two streams. The fact, however, is that both regions are part of the same continuum of spiritual and philosophical threads, sharing profound connections. These can be seen, among other things, through the deities worshipped across the two regions, offering a glimpse of the deep historical connections that have existed for several millennia.

At first sight, one may notice a difference in languages between the two regions. While many languages are spoken in south India, in north India too, several languages — apart from Hindi — are spoken. But the fact remains, each of these shares the same cultural, spiritual, and philosophical heritage.

The bond between Tamil Nadu and Varanasi is particularly symbolic of this relationship. This connection between Tamils and Kashi Vishwanath, one of Hinduism’s holiest shrines, is resplendent in rich intellectual wisdom and Hindu civilisational history.

Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to gods, literature, and Indian arts and crafts have flourished in this holy city. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, is a cradle of culture, arts, crafts, and literature. These two manifestations of Indian culture, though geographically distant, have deep and vibrant links over the centuries.

In 2021, on the 100th death anniversary of Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi said that the vision of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat (One India, Greatest India) echoed in his Tamil writings.

It is in this essence that the Modi government is organising the Kashi Tamil Sangamam from November 17 to December 17 in Varanasi to highlight the link between Kashi and Tamil Nadu, upholding the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat as India celebrates Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The National Education Policy 2020 emphasises on nurturing a generation that is modern, while also being rooted in culture. Rediscovering ancient knowledge and integrating it with modern thought, philosophy, academics, technology, entrepreneurship and craftsmanship can help create a valuable body of knowledge.

Saint Kumaraguruparar from Srivaikuntam in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu excelled in bargaining with the Sultanate of Kashi with boldness. He wrote Kashi Kelambakkam, a composition of poems on Kashi. King Adhiveera Rama Pandiyan of the Pandya dynasty dedicated a Shiva temple at Tenkasi of Tamil Nadu after his pilgrimage to Kashi.

The month-long Tamil Kashi Sangamam is an initiative to strengthen the bonds by focusing on connections between Tamil Nadu and Varanasi. The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, along with Banaras Hindu University will serve as knowledge partners to bring to light the deep academic, economic, social, and cultural relationships between Kashi and Tamil Nadu. An initiative of this nature and scale has not even been conceived in the history of Independent India, and, therefore, holds special significance as it is being held in the year India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Academic exchanges will be held on various aspects of the two ancient edifices of Indian culture.

The month-long event will serve as an ideal platform to understand the unity in India’s civilisational histories through two centres of knowledge and culture. The Sangamam will be centred on a series of themes that cover various facets of knowledge — literature, ancient texts, philosophy, spirituality, music, dance, drama, yoga, ayurveda, handlooms, and handicrafts as well as modern innovations, trade exchanges, ed-tech, and other next-generation technologies.

People from Tamil Nadu belonging to 12 different clusters — art, literature, spirituality, and education — are invited as special guests. The guests will travel in groups to Kashi in special coaches attached to trains that depart from Chennai, Coimbatore, and Rameswaram on 12 different dates. Each group will spend eight days in total, from start to return and will attend academic sessions, and visit places in and around Kashi and Ayodhya.

It is time to rediscover, reaffirm, and celebrate the links between Tamil culture and Kashi that have existed for centuries. This is just the beginning of such initiatives and under the able stewardship of PM Modi, with special emphasis on connecting various parts of the country to bring alive India’s glorious spiritual, cultural, and philosophical foundations through similar events.

Dr L Murugan is an Indian politician and advocate, currently serving as minister of state in the ministry of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying, and ministry of information and broadcasting/ The views expressed are personal/ This article was first published in Hindustan Times on Nov 8, 2022 .

Preparations in full swing for month-long Kashi-Tamil Sangamam.

Jagriti Chandra | The Hindu Web Desk | New Delhi | Nov 12, 2022:: Priests, cooks, and cow shelter staff from various temples in Tamil Nadu, alongside students, teachers, and entrepreneurs from the State will participate in a month-long Kashi-Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi from November 16 to December 19.

Over 200 students above the age of 18 from various districts of Tamil Nadu will be among the 2,500 delegates at the event, apart from experts and opinion makers.

Delegates have been selected from a total of 12 categories such as students, academia, literature, culture, professionals (law, management, medicine, media, engineering), entrepreneurs, business, artisans, heritage (art performers, yoga teachers, ayurveda doctors), spirituality, rural (farmers) and temple (priests, cooks, temple administrators, cow shelter workers) will be present.

Of the total 2,500 participants expected to attend the event, a batch with 210 delegates each will arrive from Rameswaram, Chennai, and Coimbatore and will spend a total of six days in Uttar Pradesh. This will include two days each in Varanasi, Ayodhya, and Prayagraj — considered to be holy by Hindus.

IIT Madras, which is overseeing the logistics along with Banaras Hindu University, is providing IT support for registration of participants as well as framing academic sessions and identifying resource persons. Its Director, V Kamakoti told The Hindu that efforts are being made to ensure participants are selected from districts across the State, and students are spread across various disciplines such as engineering, law etc. “Preference will be given to those who have not been to Varanasi before,” he said.

It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IRCTC for ferrying delegates from Tamil Nadu to Uttar Pradesh.

“In Varanasi, the delegates will visit the Kashi-Vishwanath corridor which connects the Kashi Vishwanath temple with the different ghats. They will also see Ganga aarti, take a cruise on Ganga and visit the Sarnath temple,” explained Chamu Krishna Shastri, Chairperson, Bharatiya Bhasha Samiti, on whose proposal the Ministry of Education is conducting the event. They will also visit other sites important to Tamil people such as the house of Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi in Varanasi.

The main venue will be the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which will host a fair. During the day, there will be an exhibition and workshops as well as seminars, and in the evening, there will be cultural programmes.

There will be a total of 70 stalls at the exhibition, which will depict various facets of Tamil culture including its handicrafts, handloom, food, language, literature, art forms. Similarly, there will also be exhibits showcasing “North Indian culture”, says BHU Professor Harish Rathore.

Participants can also visit the trade facilitation centre in Varanasi which will showcase a textile museum.

To a question asked on why a government-appointed panel tasked with exploring ways to promote the growth of Indian languages recommended an event like the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam, Mr. Shastri said, “The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 talks about language, knowledge, art and culture. All four domains are inter-related and we need to take a holistic approach [to promote languages] without segregating any one aspect.”

When asked as to why has Tamil Nadu been identified for such an event, Mr. Shastri said, “There is a big relationship between Kashi [the ancient name for Varanasi] and Tamil Nadu. Kashi finds mention in several Tamil scriptures. Wherever you go in Tamil Nadu, you find a Kashi temple, be it Tenkasi or Sivakasi. There is also a trade connection between Kancheepuram and Banaras. We are also holding the event during the Tamil Kartik Maas, during which lamps are lit at Shiva temples indicating a strong Shaivite influence in the State.”

This, he said, indicates the underlying harmony or unity in diversity in the country.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “enthusiastic” about the event, which he said was a celebration of “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat” and “the beautiful Tamil language as well as culture”.

Courtesy: The Hindu.

PM Modi expresses enthusiasm for Kashi Tamil Sangam.

PIB | New Delhi | 09 NOV 2022::  The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed enthusiasm for the Kashi Tamil Sangam which exemplifies the timeless bond that exists between India’s Northern and Southern regions. The Prime Minister remarked that it will be a celebration of the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat while also celebrating the beauty of Tamil language as well as culture.

Sharing a tweet by Union Minister Dr. L Murugan, the Prime Minister tweeted;

“The Kashi Tamil Sangam is a programme I am particularly enthusiastic about. It will be a celebration of the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and will also celebrate the beautiful Tamil language as well as culture.”

Courtesy: Hindustan Timrs | The Hindu | PIB.

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