Tamil people

Tamil people

at pp. 4-5] and a seventh-century Pallava inscription at Kudimiyamalai contains one of the earliest surviving examples of Indian music in notation. [citation | last=Widdess | first=D. R. | contribution=The Kudumiyamalai inscription: a source of early Indian music in notation | editor-last=Picken | editor-first=Laurence | title=Musica Asiatica | volume=2 | place=London | publisher=Oxford University Press | year=1979 | pages=115–150] Modern Carnatic music is organized around the twin notions of melody types ("rāgam"), and cyclical rhythm types ("thālam"). Unlike the northern Hindustani music tradition, carnatic music is almost exclusively religious. In sharp contrast with the restrained and intellectual nature of carnatic music, Tamil folk music tends to be much more exuberant. Popular forms of Tamil folk music include the "Villuppattu", a form of music performed with a bow, and the "Naattupurapaattu", ballads that convey folklore and folk history.

The dominant classical dance amongst Tamils is Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam is performative, rather than participative. The dance is an exposition of the story contained in a song, and is usually performed by one performer on stage, with an orchestra of drums, a drone, and one or more singers backstage. The story is told through a complicated combination of "mudras" (hand gestures), facial expressions, and body postures. Dancers used to be exclusively female, but the dance now also has several well-known male practitioners.t]

The most notable of Tamil folk dances is "karakattam". In its religious form, the dance is performed in front of an image of the goddess Mariamma. The dancer bears, on his or her head, a brass pot filled with uncooked rice, decorated with flowers and surrounded by a bamboo frame, and tumbles and leaps to the rhythm of a song without spilling a grain. Karakāttam is usually performed to a special type of song, known as "temmanguppattu", a folk song in the mode of a lover speaking to his beloved, to the accompaniment of a "nadaswaram" and "melam". Other Tamil folk dances include "mayilattam", where the dancers tie a string of peacock feathers around their waists; "oyilattam", danced in a circle while waving small pieces of cloth of various colors; "poykkal kuthiraiyaattam", in which the dancers use dummy horses; "manaattam", in which the dancers imitate the graceful leaping of deer; "paraiyattam", a dance to the sound of rhythmical drumbeats; and "thippanthattam", a dance involving playing with burning torches. [Sharma, Manorama (2004). Folk India: A Comprehensive Study of Indian Folk Music and Culture, Vol. 11] The "kuravanci" is a type of dance-drama, performed by four to eight women. The drama is opened by a woman playing the part of a female soothsayer of a wandering "kurava" tribe, who tells the story of a lady pining for her lover.

The therukoothu, literally meaning "street play", is a form of village theater or folk opera. It is traditionally performed in village squares, with no sets and very simple props. The performances involve songs and dances, and the stories can be either religious or secular. [cite web | title= Tamil Art History |author= | work= | url= http://www.eelavar.com/jaffna/pageview.php?ID=578&SID=119|publisher= eelavar.com | accessdate=2006-12-05] The performances are not formal, and performers often interact with the audience, mocking them, or involving them in the dialogue. Therukkūthu has, in recent times, been very successfully adapted to convey social messages, such as abstinence and anti-caste criticism, as well as information about legal rights, and has spread to other parts of India. [cite web | title= Striving hard to revive and refine ethnic dance form |author= | work= | url= http://www.hindu.com/mp/2006/11/11/stories/2006111100670300.htm|publisher= hindu.com | accessdate=2006-12-05]

The village of Melattur, in Tamil Nadu, has a special type of performance, called the bhagavata-mela, in honour of the local deity, which is performed once a year, and lasts all night. Tamil Nadu also has a well developed stage theater tradition, which has been heavily influenced by western theatre. A number of theatrical companies exist, with repertoires including absurdist, realist, and humorous plays. [cite web | title= Bhagavata mela |author= | work= The Hindu, Apr 30, 2004 | url= http://www.hindu.com/fr/2004/04/30/stories/2004043001360600.htm|publisher= hindu.com | accessdate=2006-12-05]

Both classical and folk performing arts survive in modern Tamil society. Tamil people in Tamil Nadu are also passionate about films. The Tamil film industry, commonly dubbed Kollywood, is the second-largest film industry in India. [cite web | title= The states they're in |author= | work= Guardian, November 26, 2006 | url= http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,1955127,00.html|publisher= guardian.com | accessdate=2006-12-05] Tamil cinema is appreciated both for its technical accomplishments, and for its artistic and entertainment value. The overwhelming majority of Tamil films contain song and dance sequences, and Tamil film music is a popular genre in its own right, often liberally fusing elements of carnatic, Tamil folk, North Indian styles, hip-hop, and heavy metal. Famous music directors of the late 20th century included M. S. Viswanathan, Ilayaraaja, and A. R. Rahman.


About 88% [http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_data_finder/C_Series/Population_by_religious_communities.htm] ] of the population of Tamil Nadu are Hindus. Christians and Muslims account for 6% and 5.5% respectively. Most of the Christians are Roman Catholics. The majority of Muslims in Tamil Nadu speak Tamil, [Citation | last=More | first=J.B.P. | title=Muslim identity, print culture and the Dravidian factor in Tamil Nadu | publisher=Orient Longman | place=Hyderabad | year=2007 | isbn=8125026320 at p. xv] with less than 40% reporting Urdu as their mother tongue. [Citation | last=Jain | first=Dhanesh | Contribution=Sociolinguistics of the Indo-Aryan languages | editor1-last=Cardona | editor1-first=George | editor2-last=Jain | editor2-first=Dhanesh | title=The Indo-Aryan Languages | publisher=Routledge | place=London | year=2003 | series=Routledge language family series | isbn=0700711309 | pp=46-66 at p. 57.] Tamil Jains number only a few thousand now.Total number of Jains in Tamil Nadu is 88,000 in 2001. cite web | title= Census|author= Directorate of Census Operations - Tamil Nadu| work= | url= http://www.census.tn.nic.in/religion.aspx | accessdate=2006-12-05]

The most popular deity is Murugan, also known as Karthikeya, the son of Siva. [cite web | title= Murukan in Cankam Literature: Veriyattu Tribal Worship|author= M. Shanmugam Pillai| work=First International Conference Seminar on Skanda-Murukan in Chennai, Dec. 28–30, 1998. This article first appeared in the September 1999 issue of The Journal of the Institute of Asian Studies | url= http://murugan.org/research/shanmugampillai.htm | accessdate=2006-12-06] The worship of Amman, also called Mariamman, is thought to have been derived from an ancient mother goddess, is also very common. [cite web | title= Principles and Practice of Hindu Religion|author= | work=Hindu Heritage Study Program | url= http://www.bnaiyer.com/hinduism/hist-34.html | accessdate=2006-12-05] Kan̲n̲agi, the heroine of the Cilappatikār̲am, is worshipped as Pattin̲i by many Tamils, particularly in Sri Lanka. [cite web | title= Tracing the Sri Lanka-Kerala link|author= PK Balachandran| work=Hindustan Times March 23, 2006 | url= http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/5983_1657214,00430014.htm | accessdate=2006-12-05] There are also many followers of Ayyavazhi in Tamil Nadu, mainly in the southern districts. [Dr. R.Ponnu's, Sri Vaikunda Swamigal and the Struggle for Social Equality in South India, (Madurai Kamaraj University) "Ram Publishers", Page 98. ] In addition, there are many temples and devotees of Vishnu, Siva, Ganapathi, and the other Hindu deities.

The most important Tamil festivals are Pongal, a harvest festival that occurs in mid-January, and Varudapirappu, the Tamil New Year, which occurs around mid-April. Both are celebrated by almost all Tamils, regardless of religion. The Hindu festival Deepavali is celebrated with fanfare; other local Hindu festivals include Thaipusam, Panguni Uttiram, and Adiperukku. While Adiperukku is celebrated with more pomp in the Cauvery region than in others, the Ayyavazhi Festival, Ayya Vaikunda Avataram, is predominantly celebrated in the southern districts of Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, and Thoothukudi. [ [http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=2006030305790400.htm&date=2006/03/03/&prd=th& Information on declaration of holiday on the event of birth anniversary of Vaikundar in "The Hindu"] , The holiday for three Districts: Daily Thanthi, Daily"(Tamil)", Nagercoil Edition, 5/3/2006. ]

In rural Tamil Nadu, many local deities, called aiyyan̲ārs, are thought to be the spirits of local heroes who protect the village from harm. Their worship often centers around nadukkal, stones erected in memory of heroes who died in battle. This form of worship is mentioned frequently in classical literature and appears to be the surviving remnants of an ancient Tamil tradition. [cite web | title= 'Hero stone' unearthed |author= | work=The Hindu, Jul 22, 2006| url= http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/22/stories/2006072202680200.htm | accessdate=2006-12-05]

The Saivist sect of Hinduism is significantly represented amongst Tamils, more so among Sri Lankan Tamils, although most of the Saivist places of religious significance are in northern India. The Alvars and Nayanars, who were predominantly Tamils, played a key role in the renaissance of Bhakti tradition in India. In the 10th century, the philosopher Ramanuja, who propagated the theory of Visishtadvaitam, brought many changes to worshiping practices, creating new regulations on temple worship, and accepted lower-caste Hindus as his prime disciples. [cite web | title= Redefining secularism |author= | work=The Hindu, Mar 18, 2004 | url= http://www.hindu.com/2004/03/18/stories/2004031801941000.htm | accessdate=2006-12-05]

Christianity is believed to have come to Tamil Nadu with the arrival of St. Thomas the apostle, and the number of Tamil Christians grew during the colonial period. Most Tamil Christians are Catholic and Protestant. Tamil Muslims are mostly either mainstream Sunni or Sufi.


Each geographical area where Tamils live has developed its own distinct variant of the common dishes plus a few dishes distinctly native to itself. The Chettinad region, comprising of Karaikudi and adjoining areas, is known for both traditional vegetarian dishes, like appam, uthappam, paal paniyaram, and non-vegetarian dishes, made primarily using chicken.

Rice, the major staple food in most of Tamil, is usually steamed and served with about two to six accompanying items, which typically include sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu, and "thayir" (curd) or "moru" (whey or buttermilk).

Tiffin or Light meals usually include one or more of Pongal, Dosai, idli, Vadai along with sambar and Chutney is often served as either breakfast or as an evening snack. Ghee Clarified butter called neyyi in Tamil, is used to flavor the rice when eaten with dhal or sambar, but not with curds or buttermilk. Morkulambu, a dish which can be spiced with "moru", is also popular with steamed rice.

Martial arts

Various martial arts including Kuttu Varisai, Varma Kalai, Silambam Nillaikalakki, Maankombukkalai (Madhu) and Kalarippayattu, are practised in Tamil Nadu and Kerala [Zarrilli, Phillip B. (1992) " [http://www.spa.ex.ac.uk/drama/staff/kalari/healharm.html To Heal and/or To Harm: The Vital Spots in Two South Indian Martial Traditions] "] . The weapons used include "Silambam", "Maankombukkalai", "Yeratthai Mulangkol" (double stick), "Surul Pattai" (spring sword), "Val Vitchi" (single sword), and "Yeretthai Val" (double sword) [citation|last=Raj|first=David Manuel|title=Silambam fencing from India | edition=2nd | place=Palayamkottai | publisher=Fatima Printing Press | year=1975 at pp. 54-62] . The ancient Tamil art of unarmed bullfighting, popular amongst warriors in the classical periodcite web
title=Google books version of the book "A Western Journalist on India: The Ferengi's Columns" by François Gautier
accessdate =2007-05-24
] cite web
title=NY Times: "The ritual dates back as far as 2,000 years..."
accessdate =2007-05-24
] , has also survived in parts of Tamil Nadu, notably Alanganallur near Madurai, where it is known as Jallikattu or "mañcuvirattu" and is held once a year around the time of the Pongal festival.


The global spread of the Tamil diaspora has hindered the formation of formal pan-Tamil institutions. The most important national institutions for Tamils have been the governments of the states where they live, particularly the government of Tamil Nadu and the government of Sri Lanka Fact|date=February 2008, which have collaborated in developing technical and scientific terminology in Tamil and promoting its use since the 1950s.

Politics in Tamil Nadu is dominated by the Self-respect movement (also called the Dravidian movement), founded by E.V. Ramasami, popularly known as Periyar, to promote self-respect and rationalism, and to fight casteism and the oppression of the lowest castes. Every major political party in Tamil Nadu bases its ideology on the Self-respect Movement, and the national political parties play a very small role in Tamil politics. (see "Dravidian parties")

In Sri Lanka, Tamil politics was dominated by the federalist movements, led by the Federal Party (later the Tamil United Liberation Front), until the early 1980s. In the 1980s, the political movement was largely succeeded by a violent military campaign conducted by several militant groups. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which emerged as the most important force amongst these groups in the 1990s, controls portions of northern Sri Lanka, and has attempted to establish its own government there, which it calls the government of Tamil Eelam.

In the 1960s, the government of Tamil Nadu held a World Tamil Conference, which has continued to meet periodically since then. In 1999, a World Tamil Confederation was established to protect and foster Tamil culture and further a sense of togetherness amongst Tamils in different countries. The Confederation has since adopted a Tamil flag and Tamil song [World Tamil Confederation. [http://www.thenseide.com/ulagathamizhar-eng/pann.htm Wrold Tamils National Song.] Retrieved 30 November 2006.] to act as trans-national symbols for the Tamil people; the words on the flag quote the opening line of a poem by the classical poet Kanian Poongundranaar, and means "Everyone is our kin; Everyplace is our home".

ee also

* Dance forms of Tamil Nadu
* Ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka
* Self-respect movement
* Chronology of Tamil history
* List of people from Tamil Nadu
* List of Tamil people
* List of Tamils from Sri Lanka
* Tamil Muslims
* Tamil Christians
* Tamil Eelam
* Tamil Nationalism
* Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism



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Population data

All population data has been taken from [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=tam Ethnologue] , with the exception of the data for Sri Lanka, which was taken from the CIA World Factbook's Sri Lanka [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html page] .

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