Tamil Nadu – Curiosities

  • PONGAL(festival) is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil people in the state of Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. Pongal is celebrated on the day of the winter solstice and is traditionally dedicated to the sun god (Surya) and marks the beginning of the path north of the Sun from its southern end, a movement traditionally called Uttarayana. On the occasion of the Pongal Festival and depending on where you are, there are various events, such as dance performances, beauty contests of cows, etc. To thank the solar gods, the Tamils adorn their homes with banana leaves and decorate the floors with mandalas made with colored rice powder. The celebrations last 4 days. On the first day, people burn old things and prepare for a new life. In the second, Pongal Day or Surya, people harvest the fruits of the fields as a form of thanksgiving to God, then boil fresh milk and rice in a decorated bowl, until the milk spills from the container as a sign of “abundance”. In this way, they wish each other wealth, prosperity, joy, love, and peace. The following day is dedicated to cattle: the Indians adorn with colorful flowers and cows, buffaloes, and goats, whose role is crucial for the life of the farmers. The fourth and final day is the one reserved for the meeting between people. We visit friends and relatives and share our joy and love for our neighbor

  • PONGAL is also the name of a dish originally from Tamil cuisine, and therefore also present in Sri Lanka. There are two varieties, the sweet Pongal and the slightly spicy one, but in both cases, the basic ingredients are boiled rice, ghee, and milk.

  • RANGOLI. One of the most artistic expressions of the Indian people. These are decorations created on the floor of entrances, courtyards, houses. They are real works of art made with your hands using colored rice, colored flour, and flower petals. Although the rangoli is also performed in other parts of India on important festival occasions, it is here in Tamil Nadu that this art is practiced constantly.

  • FLOWERS. The most beautiful aspect of South India is represented by the fresh flowers that women of any age wear in their hair. It is a sweet contrast to the chaos and dirt that often come across the country. It is a wonderful feeling to be wrapped in an intoxicating scent of fresh flowers that women always and continuously weave into wreaths during the day, and which they will then resell. I had the good fortune and pleasure of having my long golden hair wrapped in these flowers and it was nice to share this ancient tradition and ritual with Indian women.

  • LANGUAGES. The Tamil language is a Southern Dravidian language spoken in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore and other territories bordering the Indian Ocean. Tamil Language is one of the oldest languages in the world.

  • DANCES. Tamil has many typical dances and it is not uncommon to meet Westerners who travel to this part of India to learn or practice the various styles of dancing.

    Among the oldest and most famous, I mention the Bharatanatyam dance but there are many and different dances and artistic performances.

  • CHOCOLATE. Already on my first trip to India, when I spent some time in Kerala, I had come to the conclusion that although India had large cocoa plantations, they were not so good at making good chocolate. I still remember my disappointment when an English girl and I, eager for chocolate, had taken a trio of different chocolates and our reaction when tasting them we felt only sugar, and little else. In Ooty, however, I had to totally change my mind, a gentleman of Indian origin, but who has lived in the UAE for several years, convinced me to try it and I must say it was excellent! My old chocolate shop, dating back to 1942 is Kingstar in the main street of the city, however, there are many others of quality.

  • MEDICINAL HERBS. Tamil Nadu as well as Kerala famous for tea, are also a paradise for those who are fond of aromatic oils and medicinal herbs. The areas between Ooty and Coonor are the most renowned but Kanyakumari also has some surprises. In fact, it seems that the area around the southernmost city of India abounds in herbs and plants with unique healing properties and that Aloe Vera grows in abundance on these lands. It is used to solve various ailments and that the locals place in front of it. home to ward off evil spirits.

    Behind this peculiarity, there is an explanation given by the mythological texts according to which these herbs were generated following the fall of the Himalaya mountain while it was transported by a God to the island of Lanka to be able to win the battle against some demons.

TAMIL CONFLICT – SINHALESE. If you want to know more about the dramatic conflict between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, I advise you to read the dedicated chapters from the book “In Asia” by Tiziano Terzani.

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