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Thursday, October 1, 2015

King George V ascending the throne ~ commemoration at ThirukKurungudi ... !!!

The European colonial period was the era from the 16thcentury to the mid-20th century when several European powers established colonies in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. At first the countries followed mercantilist policies designed to strengthen the home economy at the expense of rivals, so the colonies were usually allowed to trade only with the mother country. By the mid-19th century, British Empire gave up mercantilism and trade restrictions and introduced the principle of free trade, with few restrictions or tariffs.  In most colonies across the globe, there are many vestiges of colonialism – some good, some ordinary, some obscure – at many places people unsure of why they stand or what they depict now !!!

On a recent pilgrimage was at the holy Thirukurungudi, a town in Tirunelveli district falling under Nanguneri Assembly constituency. At the foothills of the Western Ghats and 40 km to the North of Kanyakumari and about 120 km from Trivandrum, it has a rich history dating back to 1500 years.  Life in the village revolves around agriculture and the NambiRayar temple.  Rice and plantains are the major crops – there is plenty of rainfall and river Nambi feeds the irrigational channels. The tank in Thirukurungudi is the first place where pristine water from Western Ghats is stored and fed for agriculture through five canals. The pond is a biodiversity hotspot supporting various forms of life from fish, birds, insects, plants and more.  It is reachable by road – around 45 km from Tirunelveli, 15 km from Nanguneri (Vanamamalai) and 10 km from Valliyoor.

For Sri Vaishnavaites, it is a holy Divyadesam – the Lord here is ‘Nambi’[personification of all virtuous and righteous qualities] in 5 postures. There will be a separate post on the temple and some interesting aspects. In a leisurely stroll in the street in front of the temple, there was an arch, a relatively recent one nearer the Thiruther [temple car] ~ the reason for the arch is the subject matter of this post.

George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 1865 – 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and  alsoEmperor of India, from 6th May 1910 until his death in 1936.He was the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), and the grandson of the reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria. From 1877 to 1891, George served in the Royal Navy, until the unexpected death of his elder brother in early 1892 put him directly in line for the throne. On the death of his grandmother in 1901, George's father became King-Emperor of the British Empire, and George was made Prince of Wales. He succeeded his father in 1910. He was the only Emperor of India to be present at his own Delhi Durbar.

The Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. In 1924 he appointed the first Labour ministry and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster recognised the dominions of the Empire as separate, independent states within the Commonwealth of Nations. He was plagued by illness throughout much of his later reign and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.

Interestingly, this arch was constructed commemorating the ascendancy of King George V and the plaque reads that it was put up to commemorate the crowning of King George  on 12.12.1911 -  reconstructed in Jan 1995 by Simpson, son of Seeni ThuraipPandian.

 ~to connect King George with a small village in far off Tirunelveli is ………. !!!!

Back in Chennai, on NSC Bose Road,  a  big10 ft tall  statue of King George V stands forlorn adjacent to Flower Bazaar Police station, presented (!) by Govindoss Chathoorbhoojadoss in 1914.  The place which historically was known as blacktown came to be known as George Town thereafter.

There is a statue of Queen Victoria inside the Madras University, unveiled on 20th June 1887, the day which marked the Golden jubilee of Queen Victoria accession.  It was unveiled by the then Governor of Madras, Robert Bourke, 1st Baron Connemara,  who served as Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs earlier. The plaque in the statue reads : ‘statue erected in token of his loyalty, respect and admiration of many virtues faithful subject – GodayNaraenGujputee Rao of Vizagapatam’  -  an Indian aristocrat and politician who served as a member of the Madras Legislative Council from 1868 to 1884.

Miles away, in Zimbabwe in 2013,  Robert Mugabe ordered Victoria Falls to be renamed 'the smoke that thunders' to get rid of its colonial history.  David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls in  1855 and he had named it after Queen Victoria.  To the president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, Victoria Falls does not reflect its liberation heritage and hence he wanted it to be renamed as  'the smoke that thunders' to get rid of its colonial history. Locals already refer to the landmark as MosiOaTunya - which means 'the smoke that thunders'.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Sept, 2015.

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