Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Silappathikaaram – Indira Vizhavu 68-75

Offering steamed lentils, sesame seed balls, rice mixed with meat,
flowers, incense and freshly cooked rice
women hold hands together and dance in a trance
as old elegant women bless and proclaim
“In this great land ruled by our ruler
may hunger, disease and enmity leave;
may rains and wealth spring forth;”


புழுக்கலும், நோலையும், விழுக்கு உடை மடையும்,

பூவும், புகையும், பொங்கலும், சொரிந்து;

துணங்கையர், குரவையர், அணங்கு எழுந்து ஆடி;
‘பெரு நில மன்னன் இரு நிலம் அடங்கலும்
பசியும், பிணியும், பகையும், நீங்கி;
வசியும், வளனும், சுரக்க’ என வாழ்த்தி;
மாதர்க் கோலத்து, வலவையின் உரைக்கும்,
மூதில் பெண்டிர்

Today is the first day of Chittirai month in Tamil Calendar, considered an auspicious day. The above verse detailing the celebration during the month of Chittirai is from the epic Silappathikaaram, written in 2nd Century AD.

Women get together and offer steamed lentil snacks, sesame seed balls, rice mixed with meat, flowers and incense and Pongal (interpreting it as rice cooked in front of the temple, I have used freshly cooked rice) to the Protecting deity (காவல் பூதம்) at a grove in between two parts (Maruvoorp Paakkam and Pattinap Paakkam) of the town of Kaveri Poompattinam. The young women are in a trance as the Goddess enters them (அணங்கு ஏறி ஆடுதல்)  and dance traditional folk dances of Thunangai and Kuravai. Old women from their clan prays to the deity and proclaims may this great land ruled by our ruler amidst two kingdoms, may hunger, disease and enmity leave; may rains and wealth springforth”

The prayer ritual is almost the same as it is practiced in Tamil Nadu today. Most of the Tamil words in the above lines are still in use today. I never tire to repeat the saying “Glory of Tamil language is not in its antiquity, but its continuity” (தமிழின் மேன்மை அதன் தொன்மையில் இல்லை, தொடர்ச்சியில் உள்ளது)

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