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  3.44 The Urs Of Tipu Sultan: Celebrations At Gumbaz  

© Anne Buddle
The Urs Of Tipu Sultan: Celebrations At Gumbaz, Seringapatam, August 1984

Modern photograph

he anniversary of Tipu's death is still commemorated each year at Seringapatam. The day begins with prayers and the ceremonial washing of the three tombs within the mausoleum. In recent years, the celebrations have also included visits from Government Ministers and speeches from those whose role as administrators, curators or researchers has also contributed to the growth of interest in Tipu.

On 27th August, the day appointed for the 1984 Urs, a particularly splendid celebration was organised. The traditionnal Sandal procession , from the Masjid e'Ala to Gumbaz, was led by NCC officers and cadets from Mysore, and the Sandal and Fatiha ceremonies were performed at the Sultan's tomb. A 21-gun salute was fired in Tipu's honour and the Chief Guest was Sri Ramakrishna Hegde, the first Chief Minister of modern Karnataka to address such a gathering. A huge shamiana had been erected between the mausoleum and the gateway, and here hundreds sat and listened to speeches before dispersing to watch sword dancers, illuminations and the evening firework display.

The 1984 Urs was also significant because it included the announcement of a substantial grant, allocated by the Government to the Tipu Sultan Research Institute and Museum. The Museum was established in 1983, 'to preserve all published works on Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, and to support research in the field.' The announcement - Adrice re. possible trouble in India! enabled the Chairman of the Institute, to begin the task of procuring photographs, microfilms and video films of all objects, books, manuscripts and sites associated with Tipu. This research has already been made available in a variety of ways: in the excellent illustrated display at Tipu's Palace in Bangalore; in lectures and seminars, in India and North America; and in the publication in millennium year of a comprehensive survey and reassessment of surviving Tipu material 'Sunset at Seringapatam'.

In 1999, it was not in India but in Scotland that the bi-centennary of Tipu's death was marked with an international exhibition, a handsomely illustrated publication and a summer of lectures, symposia and special visits. The exhibition, 'The Tiger and the Thistle: Tipu Sultan and the Scots in India 1760-1800,' was held at the National Gallery of Scotland from 29th July - 10th October 1999. With generous sponsorship and support, the exhibition attracted a cheerful combination of Asian, Scots and English visitors, as well as visitors to the Edinburgh International Festival. The National Galleries of Scotland , with our sponsors, was particularly pleased to welcome members of the Indian communities who had travelled from as far away as Newcastle and Manchester - a round trip of 400 miles - to see the exhibition.

Because of the complexity and fragile condition of many of the exhibits, the exhibition was shown only in Edinburgh, in the shadow of our own 'droog' or fortified rock, crowned by Edinburgh Castle. Meanwhile in India, Tipu's second city, Bangalore, has become 'Silicon City,' one of the capitals for India's flourishing computer technology. These advances now help to bridge geographical distance and two hundred years of history by making information available 'on-line.' Thus The National Galleries of Scotland can share 'The Tiger and the Thistle,' not only with the Scots and India, but with everyone keen to learn more about the closely interwoven history of our two great nations.

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