Tourism > India > Tamil Nadu > Culture
Tamilnadu has a great tradition of heritage and culture that developed over 2,000 years ago and still continues to flourish. This great cultural heritage of the state of Tamilnadu evolved through the rule of dynasties that ruled the state during various phases of history. Many of the ruling dynasties gave patronage to art and culture that resulted into the development and evolution of a unique Dravidian culture that Tamilnadu today symbolizes with.
Under the rule of the Pallavas, Cholas and the Pandya kings, there were tremendous growth and development in the field of art, architecture and literature, which reached great heights. The history of Tamil language can be traced back to the age of the Tolkapiyam, the Tamil Grammar text, ascribed to around 500 B.C. Similarly, the Sangam literature dates back to 500 B.C.
People of Tamilnadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the most urbanized states of India but most of the people still live in villages. In Tamil Nadu, there is an established caste system with traditional differentiations a lot more pronounced than in many other parts of India. A large part of population is confined to the Chennai (covering industrial areas, townships and the surrounding villages) and those around Madurai, Tiruchchirappall and Coimbatore. About 80 percent of the people in Tamil Nadu follow Hinduism. A substantial percentage of population in Tamil Nadu follows Christianity and Islam.
Brahmins form the highest caste in the social hierarchy of Tamil Nadu. Traditionally, their work used to be confined to religious activities and astrological professions and they were dependent on villages gifted to them by rulers. Communities such as Vellalas (known as Gounders in Coimbatore, Mudaliars in Chingleput and other areas, Pillais in Thirunelveli district) are mainly involved in agriculture. The Village traders such as Komutti Chettiars belong to Vaishya communities. Shaanaars are an affluent mercantile community in Tamil society. Untouchables form the majority of agricultural laborers.
Languages Spoken in Tamil Nadu
Tamil is the official language of Tamil Nadu state and one of the 18 languages mentioned in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution. Tamil is one of the classical languages of the world, with a rich heritage of literature. It is the most widely spoken language in Tamil Nadu. Besides Tamil Nadu, Tamil is also spoken by a number of people in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Mauritius and Malaysia. The antiquity of Tamil is comparable to Sanskrit. Tamil is written in a derivative of the southern 'Brahmi' script. The alphabet of Tamil is unique (phonetic). That is, in Tamil language letters represent sounds, rather than ideas, as is the case in the 'Mandarin' language of China.
Religions in Tamil Nadu
The history and culture of Tamilnadu goes back to thousands years back. For centuries, people of various religions have been residing in the state. The main religions in Tamilnadu are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Jainism. Hinduism, along with its various sects, is the oldest religion in the state. Hindus are followers of number of sectarian monastic institutions (called mathas).
Tamilnadu CusinesLike all other South Indian states, Tamil Nadu is also known for a wide variety of delicious food both for the vegetarians as well as the non-vegetarians. Grains, lentils, rice and vegetables are the main ingredients of the traditional foods of Tamil Nadu. Spices add flavor and give a distinctive taste to the Tamil cuisines. Some of the most common and popular dishes of the region are idly, dosai, vada, pongal and Uppuma. Coconut chutney and sambhar invariably form a part of most of the Tamil dishes.
The typical Tamil breakfast includes dosai, which is a pancake made from a batter of rice, idly (steamed rice cakes) and lentils (crisp fried on a pan), vada (deep fried doughnuts prepared from a batter of lentils), pongal (a mash of rice and lentils boiled together and seasoned with cashew nuts, ghee, pepper and cummin seed), uppuma (cooked semolina seasoned in oil with mustard, pepper, cummin seed and dry lentils). These are the main local dishes but there are several variations that are eaten with coconut chutney and mulaga podi.
For lunch and the main course, the food consists of boiled rice, which is served with an assortment of vegetable dishes, sambar, chutneys, rasam (a hot broth prepared from tamarind juice and pepper) and curd. On the other hand, the non-vegetarian lunch and dinner include curries and dishes cooked with chicken, mutton or fish. Crispy Papad/Papar and appalam form an important part of a typical Tamil meal.
Filter coffee is a famous and popular beverage of the people of Tamil Nadu in general and Chennai in particular. It is interesting to note that making of filter coffee is like a ritual as the coffee beans are first roasted and then powdered. After the grinding work is over, the powder is put into a filter set and then boiling water is added to prepare the decoction, which is allowed to set for about 15-18 minutes. The decoction is ready and can be added to milk with sugar according to taste. The coffee is poured from one container to another in quick succession so that the ideal frothy cup of filter coffee is ready.
Chettinad cuisine is one of the spiciest and most aromatic in India. The name Chettinad cuisine comes from the place of its origin, Chettinad. Chettinad cuisine and delicacy is a specialty of Tamil Nadu and is a delight for non-vegetarian food lovers. The Chettinad cuisine consists of several variations of mutton, fish, and chicken items. The Chettinad Pepper Chicken is a specialty of all the non-vegetarian dishes. Dishes like biryani and paya are popular Tamil style of Mughali food. Paya is a type of spiced trotters broth and is usually eaten with either parathas or appam.
Tanjore painting speaks to us about love devotion and beauty of godhead. The divine stories of ancient time are foretold by the Folk art. Every regions and hamlets of India have a legend to tell and the paintings of Tanjore also known as Thanjuvar paintings are the greatest narrators of the legends of Gods and heroes. They are the crystal water reflection of our ancient and glorious past and cultural heritage.
The premise of Tanjore painting is essentially religion and spirituality and the art is renowned for its artistic portray of legendary characters and themes.
Tanjore paintings originated in Tanjavur in Chennai during the reign of the powerful Chola empire. From 16 to 18th centuries, Maratha princes, Rajus communities of Tanjore, Nayaks of Vijaynagar empire, and Trichi and Naidus of Madurai supported the art of Tanjore painting. The rulers patronized the Tanjore art and so the latter prospered and developed during these time. The Tanjore painting adorned the interiors of the palaces and soon found their place in every household. The "Saraswathi Mahal Library"in Tanjore built by the king Serfoji II displays the famous Tanjori paintings.
Tanjore PaintingThe pastimes and life of Lord Krishna are seen in Tanjore paintings. The uniqueness of the Tanjore paintings is their extraordinary gold leaf work, attractive jewellery with stones, dazzling color design, and eye catching engraved glasses.The laissez-faire application of gold leaf and precious and semi-precious stones like rubies and diamonds speaks the greatness of the adroit artists of those times.
The characteristic of Thanjavur painting is that the figures in the paintings have a round body and egg shaped effulgent eyes and are surrounded by curtains and arch. These paintings will illuminate in the dark room.
From the humble canvas and brush the ultimate form of the beauty, the Tanjore paintings, is made. The Canvas used for this painting previously was wood of the Jackfruit tree but the modern artist uses plywood. A layer of cloth is pasted over this plywood using the Arabic adhesive. A uniform coating of limestone paste and a binding material is applied and the cloth is let to dry. The artist then sketches the meticulous pictures on the canvas while the paste of limestone and fastening substance is used during adorning and engraving ornaments into the paintings. The pillars, dresses, arch and thrones of the Tanjore PaintingTanjore paintings are gilded with the gold leaves and gems of different colors. After this colors are painted on the sketch. For outlines dark brown is usually used. Red is preferentially used as the background color but some times green is also used. The yellow color is used for the Goddesses while for Gods it varies: blue for Lord Vishnu and while white for Lord Nataraj. Previously artists used the natural colors made from the vegetable dyes. The portfolios of the old Tanjore paintings were restricted to the drawings of the divine figures. But now days the modern artists explore new dimensions. They also started depicting the presiding deities of the famous temples.