Two thousand years ago, the world witnessed a unique and remarkable flowering of literature in the Tamil country. Known as the Sangam period, it was considered to be the golden period of Tamil literature. Poetry of this period was broadly classified into Akam (that which dealt with the inside: human emotions) and Puram (that which dealt with the outside : war, valour etc.) The ‘Kuruntogai’, an example of Akam poetry is an anthology of 401 poems written during this period. These exquisite lines, scratched originally on seasoned palm leaves, talk of the universal emotions of love, passion, sorrow and yearning. The poets of that era believed that the physical environment had a profound impact on the state of mind and thereby gave us through their poems, intimate portraits of human emotions set alongside vivid snapshots of nature. The descriptions of the flora and fauna of the five tinai ( regions ) of the Tamil lands are as pictorial as they are lyrical. Each of these tinai: kurinci (hills), mullai(forest), marutam (agricultural lands),neytal (seashore) and palai (arid tracts), is named after a characteristic plant.
In this photo-story, we bring you our favourites from the Kuruntogai. Happy Pongal!
Extracts from : Uma Sankar Sekar’s essay on “The five landscapes- the Tinai of Kuruntogai”.