TAMIL, what is the first thing that strikes your mind when you think of the word Tamil – grab a hold of the overflowing thoughts. When I think of TAMIL I get drowned in the thoughts of the traditions and culture which has seen the evolution of human thriving for centuries. TAMIL has got tons of pride-filled stories that are preserved in the history. We are the children of warriors who played in the battlefield and had our lands unconquered by war. We not only have bravery filled in our body, we are the people who are known for our kindness and gratitude. Tamil is ranked in the 15th position as the most spoken language in the world and we Tamil speakers make up about 1% of the world’s population. The traditions we follow are not just for the sake of doing.
Imagine you are entering a TAMIL cultured home during a festival. Let me walk you into this world and explain the traditions that we have and why we do it.
First of all, there will be a KOLAM in front of the home. Mostly, KOLAMS are closed, continuous figures to represent the never-ending cycle of birth and death. It is to ensure cleanliness and to prevent germs.
At the very first moment if anyone sees you, they will greet you by joining their palms which is called the “VANAKKAM”. The cultural reason behind this gesture is respect. There is a fascinating science behind this greeting too! Joining both hands together presses the fingers together activating the pressure points of the ears, eyes and mind, which aids in remembering that person for a long time. And, there’s no transfer of germs since you haven’t made physical contact! Just remember this when you greet a person next time.
You can notice some things like KUMKUM and Toe rings.
On the forehead, between the two eyebrows, is a spot of a major nerve point in the human body. The red ‘kumkum’ between the eyebrows is believed to retain energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. You won’t believe, this also facilitates the blood supply to the face muscles.
As many know, toe rings are the significance of married women, but there is science behind it too. Normally they are worn on the second toe. A certain nerve from the second toe connects the uterus and passes to the heart. Wearing toe ring on this finger strengthens the uterus and keeps it healthy by regulating the blood flow. Menstrual cycle will be regularized by wearing toe rings.
Next they will feast us with food.
The tradition is to sit on the floor and eat. When we sit on the floor, we usually sit cross legged – In sukhasana or a half padmasana (half lotus), which is a posture that instantly brings a sense of calm and helps in digestion. This posture automatically triggers a signal to our brain to prepare the stomach for digestion.
We are rice eaters. We always start our meal with something spicy and end with sweet dishes. The importance of this eating practice is that the spicy food activates the digestive juices and ensures that the digestion process goes on smoothly and efficiently, while the sweets or carbohydrates pulls down the digestive process. Wow! We have a scientific reason behind eating meals while sitting on the floor too!
What Tamilians do next is, they will invite us to their temple. Tamil Nadu is regarded as the land of temples for its numerous temples and marvellous construction.
When you are visiting the temple you ring the bell before entering the place where the main idol is placed. According to the religion, the bell produces a sound that is pleasant to the God. We consider that this sound keeps the evil forces away. However, the scientific reason behind ringing of bells is that their ring clears our mind and helps us stay sharp with full concentration for devotional purpose. These bells are made in such a way that when they produce a sound it lasts for a minimum of 7 seconds in an echo mode to create a unity between the left and right parts of our brains. The duration of the echo is good enough to activate all the seven healing centres in our body. This results in emptying our brain from all negative thoughts. This is how the holy bell originated. It’s purely science.
You will come to know how deep art, dance and music have rooted our tradition. Bharatanatyam is a traditional classical dance form that is dedicated to fire as the movements of the body while dancing this form resembles the fire. Bharatanatyam is a part of the five dance forms of ancient India that signify the 5 elements of the Earth and the human body, and the others being Kathakali , Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Odissi.
Piercing the ears is a unique custom in our culture. Piercing the ears improves the intellect, power of thinking and decision making attributes. Ear piercing prevents speech-restraint. It reduces impertinent behaviour and makes the ear-channels free from disorders. You can see this custom finding its way into western culture due to its scientific appeal.
If we are lucky, we can witness the famous Tamil tradition – JALLIKATTU.
This sport was termed as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ meaning touching / hugging the bull. Jallikattu is a bull fighting sport which is played in Tamil Nadu during the celebration of the Pongal festival and is one of the oldest persisting sports of the Tamil origin. ‘Jallikattu,’ – the name comes from Tamil terms ‘salli kaasu’ (coins) and ‘kattu’ (a package) tied to the horns of bulls as prize money. We all know the current status of our cultural sport.
There are several rock paintings, more than 3,500 years old, at remote Karikkiyur village in the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu that show men chasing bulls which is a proof that this sport was played even ages ago.
Such a sport with so much history has to be protected. We all might have listened to the “TAKKARU TAKKARU” album by Hip Hop Tamilzha.
Let me say another thing that we consider as a stupid myth . We do fasting. The underlying principle behind fasting is found in Ayurveda. This ancient medical system sees the basic cause of many diseases as the accumulation of toxic materials in the digestive system. By fasting, the digestive organs get rest and all the body mechanisms are cleansed and corrected. A complete fast is good for heath. Fasting acts as an antidote by removing toxic materials from the body and lowers the acid content in the body which helps people to retain their soundness. There were lot of thinking and scientific facts that were put into the tradition of the Tamilians. Now, we are ignoring those assets just like that in the name of westernization. If we invest some time in understanding the inner vibe of these assets, there will be no myths to be stuck in.