Cultural Heritage of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is home to the one of the oldest continuous civilization in the world. It has a vast history of more than 2000 years and can be called as a “living museum” as the past has seamlessly integrated with the present.The monuments, dance forms, music, art, literature, food and the various festivals highlight the unique and rich cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu.

 

Trade and Commerce

Tamil Nadu has a rich history of trade and commerce since ancient times. Historically evidence shows that Tamil Nadu had trade relationship with the ancient Roman empire, Egypt and China. The main products which were exported were spices, cotton and silk. The trade allowed for interaction of people and the exchange of ideas. During the medieval period the Chola empire had a strong influence in South east Asia and China and established strong maritime trade routes.

 

Monuments

Tamil Nadu is home many temples which have been built over various periods by rulers of various dynasties.The temples are an architectural marvel and showcase engineering excellence and the unique building style of Tamil Nadu. The carvings, inscriptions and painting in the temples are exquisitely done and they transport you to the bygone era.The districts of Kanchipuram, Madurai, and Thanjavurwhich were the capitals of Pallava, Pandya and Chola empire has many ancient temples. Some of the famous temples are Meenakshi Amman Temple (Madurai), Brihadeeswarar Temple (Thanjavur), Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam), Kapaleeshwarar Temple (Chennai), Rock Temples (Mahabalipuram), Ramanathaswamy Temple (Rameswaram), KanchiKailasanthar Temple (Kanchipuram), Jambukeswarar Temple (Thiruvanaikaval), Thillai Nataraja Temple (Chidambaram).The Monuments at Mahabalipuram and the Great Living Chola Temples were declared as UNESCO heritage sites.

 

Festivals

Festivals are important social and religious events and act as the bond that has enabled the culture to survive for over 2000 years. The major festivals celebrated in Tamil Nadu are

Pongal:

It is a harvest festival celebrated during the month of January. It is one of the most important festival in Tamil Nadu and elaborate celebrations take places over 3 days.

Chithiraifestival:

It is celebrated in the city of Madurai during the month of April. It is dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi the guardian of the city.

Adiperukku:

It is celebrated as a tribute to the water’s life sustaining properties and is celebrated during the month of Adi (mid-July to mid-August). It marks the onset of monsoon in Tamil Nadu.

Thaipoosam:

It is the festival celebrated in the months of January and February. It is celebrated in honor of Lord Murugan.

KarthigaiDeepam:

It is a festival of lights that is observed in the month of Karthigai (mid-November to mid-December)

 

Dance and Music

Tamil Nadu has a rich and varied history in the art of entertainment. The three forms of entertainment namely Iyal (Literature), Isai (Music) and Nadagam (Drama) were widely celebrated and many different forms emerged. Most of the art forms were supported by the patronage of the rulers and usually had their basis in religious celebrations.

Bharatanatyam:

It is one of the major Indian classical dances which originated in Tamil Nadu. It is originated in temples and is used to express religious themes. It is usually accompanied by Carnatic music.

Karagaattam:

It is a popular folk dance of Tamil Nadu of balancing a pot decorated with a cone of flower arrangements and topped by a paper parroton the head along with musical accompaniment.

KaavadiAatam:

It is form of song and dance that are performed when going on a pilgrimage.The offerings to the gods are carried when performing the dance. Sometimes piercing of skin, cheeks and tongue are also undertaken.

PoikkalKudiraiAattam (Dummy Horse Dance):

It is a Dummy Horse dance in which the dancer puts on the dummy figure of a horse and performs the dance.

Bommalaattam or Puppetry:

It is a puppetry dance which held in rural areas of Tamil Nadu. Skilled puppeteers manipulate the puppets through strings and wires. Itusually depicts stories mainly from the puranas, epics and folklore.

Therukoothu:

It is the street drama that is conducted during the village festivals.

Silambaattam:

It is a martial art form, practiced using a long wooden staff. It has metamorphosed into form of performance dance.

VilluPaattu:

It is popular art form where a main instrument Villu(Bow, fixed with bells) accompany the main singer.

 

Art

Thanjavur painting are a classic form of art painting where gold coloured leaves and sparkling stones are used to emphasize certain aspects of the paintings like ornaments and dresses. They are known for their vibrant colours and predominately most of the paintings depict Hindu Gods and Goddesses.

Swamimalai Bronze Icons are the bronze statute which are manufactured using a wax casting technique. The technique was developed during the chola period to manufacture idols for the temples. It has now been identified as a Geographical Indicator by the Government of India.

 

Food

Tamil cuisine has a wide variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. The food is traditionally served in a banana leaf. The major ingredients are in Tamil cuisine are rice, legumes and lentils. Different geographical regions developed their own style depending on the availability of ingredients and spices. The popular cuisines are chettinad cuisine, kongunadu cuisine and cholanadu cuisine.

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