Tamil, the language spoken by the people of India and neighbouring countries, is an Indo-European language. It is also known as the Dravidian or South Indian language. The word Tamil means “language of the tamils” in both Indian and Tamil circles. Culture, history and society in Tamil Nadu have evolved over a period of centuries, with a strong accent on identity, tradition and local culture. Today, however, many feel that what was once called “Tamil Nadu” has become largely English-speaking southern India. This is a change that has been felt nearly a century at that. Nowadays, most people speak English as their first language but their ancestors spoke Tamil fluently. Their dialects are still part of their everyday speech even though they now speak more than one language fluently. Many people speak several languages fluently even though they have not learned enough about another language to know if it belongs to that family. This blog will explore how and when some of these traditions got lost and how they can be revived again so that Tamils can be proud of who they are and what they stand for.
Tamil culture and identity
The first thing that comes to mind when someone asks, “What is Tamil?”, is surely their culture. As per international studies, there are about 50 languages in South Asia and about half of them are closely related to one another. Tamil is one of them. Not only does it belong to a language family with other South Asian languages but it is also closely related to the Malayalam, Oriya, Gujarati, Kannada and Konkani languages as well. The people of Tamil Nadu speak a language called “Tamil” which is closely related to other South Asian languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Castillian, Tagalog, Hmong-nu, and many more. However, there is much that is unique about this language. Most notably, it is not only related to other South Asian languages but also to western languages that are spoken in Southern parts of Asia as well as Australia.
Tamil history and society
Tamil is one of the oldest Indian languages and it is believed that it was spoken as early as the mid-2nd millennium BCE. The oldest surviving inscription from the Indian subcontinent dates back to the 3rd century BCE and it is one of the earliest examples of stamps and coins issued by the Gupta Empire. The language was probably influenced by Punjabi and Frontier language which are closely related to Tamil. Both Punjabi and Frontier languages are closely related to Pahari, Gauda and Mal reached in coastal North India and Central parts of India. In the Amazon River Gorge of South America, there are a number of ancient wooden stilted houses built by the indigenous people using local materials such as plank and twine. These stilted houses are essentially metal but with a wooden roof and floor. These houses show a lot of cultural complexity because they are built to a very high standard unlike many wooden houses which are made of similar materials such as twine, plank and other natural materials.
Tamil cuisine, traditional medicines and treatments
In the year 993, theGMK Raja of 1527, wrote a treatise on “Meethi paa meethi” called “Mazhada paa meethi”. It is this book that first formulated the understanding that people should make of food and drink not only what they eat but also what they drink. In his treatise, the author established that drinking wine should be paired with some food and that food should be eaten with drink. It is only with the very recent discovery of the world’s largest ever human tooth that we know that people back then actually ate meat. The author of the treatise also suggest that the glass be paired with the food and that the bottle be used as an ashtray. It has been said that the Tamil tongue can neither speak nor write but only think. It is believed that the earliest written texts in Tamil are those of the Tamil poet R.V.V. Iyengar who lived in the 14 century.
Tamil Buddhist faith and literature
Like many other Indian languages, Tamil has a rich Buddhist faith. During the Gupta Empire, a branch of Buddhism was brought to the Southern part of India by a Buddhist monk named Nalavar. It is from Nalavar that much of the famous Ramlila painting “Lakshmi in the Lotus Feet” is based. To the north of Ramlila is the ruins of an ancient monastery called Sayyidnagar. It is largely hidden from view today but was once a bustling city. The ruins of Sayyidnagar are the biggest and most visible signs of city life during that time.
Tamil as a learning language
Nowadays, most people are aware of the advantages of learning a new language but few are aware of the advantages of getting a well-rounded education in that language as well. Tamil, as a living language, has a lot to offer both mentally and physically. It provides a lot of information to the intelligent and the un bright. Having a well-rounded knowledge of the language allows one to enjoy communication with other people at all times and in any situation.
It is easy to feel nostalgia for a time that has passed and nostalgia for a language is a prevailing feeling among the people of Tamil Nadu. Back in the day when Tamil was spoken by people from all over the world and when it was a living language and was given a wide range of cultural context, it was a different India. Tamil has a rich cultural history, a rich heritage and a rich cuisine. These are all things that make Tamil a great place to visit for both tourists and native residents.