Wednesday, 24 July 2013

From Palmyra Tree to Tamil Eezham

Anthropologist, Iconographist, Historian and Well known writer Tho. Pa alias Tho. Paramasivan is a versatile scholar and a follower of Rationalist and founder of the Self respect movement Periyar E V R, Tho. Pa. says that it should be the duty of an atheist to bring to light the history of temples, as they are great power centres and were invaded by one religion from the other.

While many believe that God is immortal, according to Tho Paramasivan, a well-known writer, anthropologist and historian, Gods in plenty ‘were born and they died at last’ in the long course of human history.
Man believed that God only is immortal after his fruitless search for human immortality as learnt from the ancient Babylonian epic Gilgamesh and the poems of Sappho, an ancient Greek poetess. Also, human immortality (in case there is one so), according to ‘Tithonus’ an English poem, by Lord Tennyson, is nothing more than cruelty, as  the poem says that man, being a living object, has to decay and finally seek the liberty from the painful life through death.
But Paramasivan conceptualises the ‘mortal character’ of even Gods, because, as a rationalist and follower of Periyar E V Ramasamy, he believes that man was not created by God, but Gods were created by him.
Paramasivan, in his plenty of writings on the cultural anthropology of Tamil Nadu, has distinguished the worship of what he describes as the “corporate” religious Gods like Shiva, Vishnu and many more from that of different folk deities like Kalan, Sudalaimaadan, Pothiraja, Isakkiyamman and Annanmar of Tamil Nadu.
“Rather than the common worship of Shiva, Thirumal and Ganesha, only the worships of different folk deities at different places reflect the plural character of culture in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, the respective folk deities, who are worshipped by different clans and castes, are rich in their respective regional cultures,” adds Paramasivan, who is a former professor of Tamilology at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli.
In Verum Vizhudhum, a documentary screened on Paramasivan in the city on Monday, the 63 year old writer says that his unlettered mother was all his inspiration, as she had narrated him a plenty of tales and provided him much information on indigenous medicine and methods of cultivating crops in traditional agriculture.
“Tho. Pa’s pursuit of knowledge through history, anthropology, archeology and literature is wide and accurate. His observations for history even from a trivial thing would put anyone in surprise” avers A P Mani, who made the documentary on the scholar.
Pointing at the plenty of Palmyra trees in a shot in the documentary, Tho. Pa informs the history of planting thousands of Palmyra trees in Tirunelveli by the Chera king Boodhala Veera Udhayamarthandan, after he conquered the banks of river Tamiraparani in 16th century. Also, Tho. Pa interestingly explains that the Eezhava community in Kerala got their name so, after getting identified with their occupation of climbing the Palmyra tree, whose name is rightly called Eezham in Tamil. Further, the historian points out that Eezhavas are the people, who once came and settled in Kerala from Eezham, an ancient land, whose present name is Sri Lanka! 

B. Meenakshi Sundaram

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