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See also: First Sangam, Second Sangam, and Third Sangam
Sangam period (Tamil: சங்ககாலம், Sangakālam ,
Malayalam: സംഘകാലം ?) is the period of history of
Tamil Nadu and
Kerala (known as Tamilakam) spanning from c.
3rd century BC to c. 3rd century AD. It is named after the famous
Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of
Old Tamil language, the term
Purananuru 168. 18) referred to the whole of
the ancient Tamil-speaking area, corresponding roughly to the area
known as southern India today, consisting of the territories of the
present-day Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, parts of Andhra
Pradesh, parts of
Karnataka and northern Sri Lanka also known as
2 Literary sources
5 See also
Main article: History of Tamil Nadu
According to Tamil legends, there were three Sangam periods, namely
Head Sangam, Middle Sangam and Last Sangam period. Historians use the
Sangam period to refer the last of these, with the first two
being legendary. So it is also called Last Sangam period
(Tamil: கடைச்சங்க பருவம்,
Kaṭaissanka paruvam ?), or
Third Sangam period
(Tamil: மூன்றாம் சங்க பருவம்,
Mūnṟām sanka paruvam ?). The
Sangam literature is thought to
have been produced in three Sangam academies of each period. The
evidence on the early history of the Tamil kingdoms consists of the
epigraphs of the region, the Sangam literature, and archaeological
The period between 600 BC to AD 200,
Tamilakam was ruled by the three
Tamil dynasties of Pandya, Chola and Chera, and a few independent
chieftains, the Velir.
Sources of ancient Tamil history
Sources of ancient Tamil history and Sangam literature
There is a wealth of sources detailing the history, socio-political
environment and cultural practices of ancient Tamilakam, including
volumes of literature and epigraphy.
Tamilakam's history is split into three periods; prehistoric,
classical (see Sangam period) and medieval. A vast array of literary,
epigraphical and inscribed sources from around the world provide
insight into the socio-political and cultural occurrences in the Tamil
nation. The ancient
Tamil literature consists of the great grammatical
work Tolkappiyam, the ten anthologies Patthupattu, the eight
anthologies Ettuttogai, the eighteen minor works Pathinenkeelkanaku
and the five great epics, Silappadikaram, Manimegalai,
Sivaga-Cindamani, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi.
Further information: Economy of ancient Tamil country, Agriculture in
ancient Tamil country, and Industry in ancient Tamil country
Main article: Ancient Tamil religion
The religion of the ancient
Tamils closely follow roots of nature
worship and some elements of it can also be found in Tamil Shaiva
Siddhanta traditions. In the ancient [[Sangam ldeified Tamil poets
ascending the Koodal academy. The Tamil landscape was classified into
five categories, thinais, based on the mood, the season and the land.
Tolkappiyam, one of the oldest grammatical works in Tamil mentions
that each of these thinai had an associated deity such as Kottravai
Mother goddess i.e. Kali) and Sevvael (Murugan) in Kurinji (the
hills), Thirumaal (Vishnu) in Mullai (the forests), Vendhan (Wanji-ko
or Seyyon i.e. Indra) in Marutham (the plains i.e. Vayu), and Kadaloan
(Varuna) in the Neithal (the coasts and the seas).
Tamil calendar was based on the sidereal year similar to
the ancient Hindu solar calendar, except that months were from solar
calculations, and originally there was no 60-year cycle as seen in
Sanskrit calendar. The year was made up of twelve months and every two
months constituted a season. With the popularity of Mazhai vizhavu,
traditionally commencement of Tamil year was clubbed on April 14,
deviating from the astronomical date of vadavazhi vizhavu.
Pongal (பொங்கல்) the festival of harvest and spring,
thanking Lord Indiran and Lord El (the sun), comes on January 14/15
Peru Vaenil Kadavizha, the festival for wishing quick and easy passage
of the mid-summer months, on the day when the Sun or El stands
directly above the head at noon (the start of Agni Natchaththiram) at
the southern tip of ancient Tamil land. This day comes on April 14/15
Mazhai Vizhavu, aka Indhira Vizha, the festival for want of rain,
celebrated for one full month starting from the full moon in Ootrai
(later name-Cittirai) சித்திரை and completed on the
full moon in Puyaazhi (Vaikaasi) (which coincides with Buddhapurnima).
It is epitomised in the epic Cilapatikaram in detail.
Puyaazhi (Vaikaasi) visaagam and Thai poosam,
தைப்பூசம் the festivals of Tamil God [Muruga]'s
birth and accession to the Thirupparankundram Koodal Academy, coming
on the day before the full moons of Puyaazhi and Thai respectively.
Soornavai Vizha, the slaying of legendary Kadamba
Surabadma, by Lord [Muruga], comes on the sixth day after new moon in
Itrai (Kaarthigai). It is sung about in Thirumurugatrupadai and
Vaadai Vizha or Vadavazhi Vizha, the festival of welcoming the Lord
Surya back to home, as He turns northward, celebrated on December
21/22 (Winter Solstice) (the sixth day of Panmizh[Maargazhi]). It is
sung about in Akanauru anthology.
Semmeen Ezhumin Vizhavu (Aathi-Iřai Darisanam) or Aruthra Darishanam,
the occasion of Lord Siva coming down from the ThiruCitrambalam
திருச்சிற்றம்பலம் and taking a look
at the Vaigarai Thiru Aathirai star in the early morning on the day
before the full moon in Panmizh. Aathi Irai min means the star of the
God (Siva) on the Bull (Nandi).
Thiruonam or Onam, the birthday of Mayon (Lord Vishnu), thiruonam is a
group of stars which are bright together and resemble like an eagle.
Lord Vishnu's mount is Garuda (eagle), so the day was considered as
the birthday of Lord
Vishnu by the people of
Pandya kingdom and was
celebrated for 10 days. That was mentioned in '[Maduraikanji]' one of
the 'Pathupaatu' book, 'Thirupallandu' by Periyazhwar and from the
song of Thirugnanasambandhar in Thevaram. On this day, Keralites
celebrate Onam as the state's harvest festival. Onam is observed for
10 days, ending in Thiruvonam (or Thirounam).
See also: Ancient Tamil music
Musicians, stage artists, and performers entertained the kings, the
nobility, the rich and the general population. Groups of performers
Thudian, players of the thuda, a small percussion instrument
Paraiyan, who beat maylam (drums) and performed kooththu, a stage
drama in dance form, as well as proclaiming the king's announcements
Muzhavan, who blew into a muzhavu, a wind instrument, with the army
indicating the start and end of the day and battlefield victories.
They also performed in kooththu alongside other artists.
Kadamban who beat a large bass-like drum, the kadamparai, and blew a
long bamboo, kuzhal, the cerioothuthi (similar to the present
PaaNan, who sang songs in all pann tunes (tunes that are specific for
each landscape) and were masters of the yaazh, a stringed instrument
with a wide frequency range.
Together with the poets (pulavar) and the academic scholars
(saandror), these people of talent appeared to originate from all
walks of life, irrespective of their native profession.
See also: Tamil people, Sangam literature, Sangam landscape, and
Chronology of Tamil history
The people were divided into five different clans ("kudes") based on
their profession. They were:
Mallars: the farmers.
Malavars: the hill people who gather hill products, and the traders.
Nagars: people in charge of border security, who guarded the city
walls and distant fortresses.
Kadambars: people who thrive in forests.
Thiraiyars: the seafarers.
All the five kudes constituted a typical settlement, which was called
an "uru". Later each clan spread across the land, formed individual
settlements of their own and concentrated into towns, cities, and
countries. Thus the Mallars settled in
Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, while
the Malavars came to live in Kerala, western Tamil Nadu, eastern
Andhra Pradesh and southern Sri Lanka. The Nagars inhabited southern
and eastern Tamil Nadu, and northern Sri Lanka, while the Kadambars
settled in central
Tamil Nadu first and later moved to western
Karnataka. The Thiraiyars inhabited throughout the coastal regions.
Later various subsects were formed based on more specific professions
in each of the five landscapes (Kurinji, Mullai, Marutam, Neithal and
Poruppas (the soldiers), Verpans (the leaders of the tribe or
weapon-ists), Silambans (the masters of martial arts or the arts of
fighting), Kuravar (the hunters and the gatherers, the people of
foothills) and Kanavars (the people of the mountainous forests) in
Kurumporai Nadan-kizhaththis (the landlords of the small towns amidst
the forests in the valleys), Thonral-manaivi (the ministers and other
noble couples), Idaiyars (the milkmaids and their families), Aiyars
(the cattle-rearers) in Mullai.
Mallar or Pallar (the farmers and warriors), Vendans (Chera, Chola and
Pandya kings were called as "Vendans"), Urans (small landlords),
Magizhnans (successful small scale farmers), Uzhavars (the farm
workers), Kadaiyars (the merchants) in Marutham.
Saerppans (the seafood vendors and traders), Pulampans (the
vegetarians who thrive on coconut and palm products), Parathars or
Paravas (people who lived near the seas-the rulers, sea warriors,
merchants and the pirates), Nulaiyars (the wealthy people who both do
fishing and grow palm farms) and Alavars (the salt cultivators) in
Palai symbolises the dry arid lands and scorching deserts of Tamil
country where nothing except for the hardy and war-like perseverant
tribes native to those lands can survive. It is also the only land
among all five lands of the
Sangam landscape that a female God, fierce
Kotravai was worshipped which is synonymous with the
common belief that all the other lands of Tamil country emerged from
these original dry arid lands. The tribes existed in these lands were
the ruthless and fearsome
Maravars (Noble Warriors, Hunters and
Bandits) and Eyinars (Warriors and Bandits). They actively seek out
for wars, knowledge, invade far and distant lands and engage in
people were known on the basis of their occupation they followed such
as artisans, merchants etc.
warriors occupied a special position in society and memorial stones
called "Nadukan" were raised in honour of those who died in fighting
and they were worshiped.
Political map of South India, 210 B.C.E.
History of Tamil Nadu
^ Wilson, A.Jeyaratnam. "Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: Its Origins and
Development in 19th and 20th Centuries". "They had earlier felt secure
in the concept of the Tamilakam, a vast area of "Tamilness" from the
south of Dekhan in India to the north of Sri Lanka...". Google.
^ "Early Interactions Between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on
Cross Cultural exchange". "originally imported from
Tamilakam(Southern India) to Illam(Sri Lanka)". Google. first1=
missing last1= in Authors list (help)
^ a b Abraham, Shinu (2003). "Chera, Chola, Pandya: using
archaeological evidence to identify the Tamil kingdoms of early
historic South India". Asian Perspectives. 42.
^ Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The smile of
Tamil literature of
South India. BRILL. p. 46.
^ Mannar Uruvana 'Mallar' Varalaru Archived July 16, 2011, at the
A. L. Basham, The Wonder that was India, Picador (1995)
P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar, History of the
Tamils from the earliest times
to 600 AD, Madras, 1929; Chennai, Asian Educational Svcs. (2001)
"History of Mallars"
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