Articles

Upholding rich legacy

A photo of many smiling children against a lovely house was my first introduction to Melaseval, a village an hour away from Tirunelveli. A few correspondences with the family members got me an invitation to the residence of Ramalingam Pillai, the pannaiyar of Melaseval. The home and the old couple were everything that is best of the hospitality of the Tirunelveli region. From the road, the house looked simple, the only curious feature being that the ground floor had just one window onto the...

A fort and an epic

I f the history of India is made up of battles, then our forts surely deserve more attention. Tucked away on the Thanjavur–Mannargudi Road in Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, Mahadevapatnam is but a blip on the map. The village may always choose to be like that but it has a tourist and historian's treasure waiting for the world to discover. Sakthi and I felt like intrepid explorers. We had a line of reference from an old book about the possibility of a mint from the Maratha times existing...

Money mania

C ounting numbers has never been a strong point of mine; the only time I didn't feel ashamed of it was when, a few months back, newspapers carried the loss to the nation from the CWG and Spectrum scandals. My mind boggled with the number of zeroes and sums of money I doubt I will ever make in my life! The politicians had made me a fool and I wasn't comfortable with that. All our politicians are never at a loss to describe the greatness of our country and our wonderful heritage in their speeches...

Old world charm

P ublished in 1908, ‘Aristocracy of Southern India,' by A. Vadivelu made for fascinating reading and I was overjoyed when a friend promised to take me to one of the Zamindars written about in the book. Ilayarasanendhal is a small village today between Kovilpatti and Madurai. One would find it difficult to locate it in the map but the efforts will be well rewarded. We snaked through the many small lanes and humble homes to some imposing walls and an entrance to the side. The entry got us...

Grand old man of THAMIZH

It is important that February 19 is remembered for on this day in 1855 was born a man who did so much for Tamil as a language. But he never got his due. Not even a university named after the person, whose crusade was to restore lost literary treasure. Most speakers of Tamil will know U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer as ‘Thamizh Thatha.’ Some may have heard of his untiring efforts to bring the Sangam period literature back into circulation and accessible to the larger population and thereby...

About life in towns and villages

(This column attempts at unravelling fascinating facts on the art and architecture of India and this week’s article throws light on the village life.) With the teaching of history being grudgingly tolerated, it is a pipe dream for us to expect local history to be taught in schools. Yet, thanks to inscriptions, the medieval life of several towns and villages can be reconstructed to a large degree. With the use of literature references, it becomes even more colourful and absorbing. Some...

Of music and Hindu history, carved in stone

If you are to participate in author and epigraphist Pradeep Chakravarthy’s heritage walks, then you have to be accompanied by a schoolgoing child. On Sunday morning there was only one child among the group of enthusiasts at the Marundeeswarar temple where he sung Tirugnanasambandar’s padigams in soothing Hindolam and Mukhari. And the youngster persisted with numerous questions about the various stone carvings on the pillars. The early start to the day didn’t seem to bother...

Dispelling darkness

(A monthly column that highlights many fascinating facts about the heritage structures around the State, this one talks about gifts of lamps to the temples.) Several inscriptions in temples mention the gift of lamps. From a philosophical angle, they signifed the banishment of ignorance by casting light (knowledge) and in a practical sense, they were indispensible at a time when there were no other illumination facility. Lamps were found both in stone and metal. In several temples, even today,...

Hailed by the Azhwars

"WHY MY companions do you blame me? It's not my fault that I am in love with him! On seeing my Lord of Thirukurungudi, I think only of His discus, His conch, His lotus eyes and pair of coral hued lips. My heart is mine no longer!" Thiruvaimozhi 5.5.1 Going on, Nammazhwar explains in the next 8 stanzas the overriding obsession of Parankusa Naayaki towards the Lord in Thirukurungudi. In what are among the most beautiful paasurams, one hears Parankusa Naayaki replying to her companions and...

Rushes to the devotee's rescue

TIRUKKOLUR IS BIRTHPLACE of Nammazhwar's ardent devotee, Madurakavi, whose praise of Nammazhwar is always recited before reciting Nammazhwar's work. In his hymns on this temple, Nammazhwar assumes the role of the heroine's mother, who complains of the young girl forsaking everything to be with her lord at Tirukkolur. The first stanza captures the essence beautifully, ``The food she eats, the water she drinks even the betel leaves she chews are all submerged in her passion for Kannan. Eyes...