Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Marrige Customs & Rites

Marrige Customs & Rites

Their marriage customs are unique amongst other communities in Tamil Nadu and usually do not accept the officiating of Brahmin priests.
This indirectly says that, they are one of the oldest and civilized communities in India.
Marriage customs
Gounders marry outside their Kootam (Gotram) and are renowned for their elaborate three-day-marriage extravaganzas. Only some kootams give and take very high dowries, whereas today that is fading away. Their marriage rituals follow the Kshatriya pattern and necessarily involve service castes participation.
Kongu Vellalar Marriage Kongu Vellala Gounders-Ceremonial Rites in Marriages Who perform rites? Arumaikaarar Arumaikaari Naavidhan (Barber) Vannaan (Washer man) Potter (Vetkovar) Paraiyars (Men from paraiya caste) Kammaalar Pandaaram Maadhaari (shoemaker) Porutham paarthal (Examination of the agreement of horoscopes) Sagunam paarthal (Being guided by omens) Mutual visit to the houses of bride and bridegroom Betrothal (Nichayadhaartham or nichaya thaamboolam) Invitation for marriage Kongu Vellalar Marriage Kongu Vellalar Marriage.
Rituals and customs Kongu Nadu is an ancient one. From the very beginning, Kongu Nadu was part of Tamil Nadu. Kongu means honey; Kongu means fragrance of a flower. Since the country (Nadu) was full of flowers and abundant honey in mountain areas, the country was called by the name ‘Kongu Nadu'. The Kongu Vellalars are sons of the soil. They live in one third land area of Kongu Nadu. Even though all the people who take to agriculture are called Vellalar, the word ‘Kongu Vellalar' refers to only Kongu Vellalar gounders.
Kongu Vellalar Marriage:
The Vellalar were of great assistance to the king by being in various positions and ranks in the army. They also got the title 'Kamindan' from the king for their meritorious service and loyalty. Later the title got modified as ‘Gounden'. To streamline the living together of the boy and the girl, certain regulations and procedures were created. The procedures and habits as per certain regulations later became ‘rites'. The performance of all the rites collectively in a sequence is called marriage.
Kongu Vellala Gounders-Ceremonial Rites in Marriages The various rites being performed nowadays in the marriage ceremony of Kongu Vellalar community are unique in nature. Each and every rite is performed for some specific reason. The original rites performed centuries ago in Kongu Vellalar marriage ceremony which resembled ‘Sanagam’ age rites have undergone minor changes and modifications from technology and consequent changes in customs, habits and facilities. Some rites have ceased to exist because of their having become obsolete.
The rites which are being performed nowadays in Kongu Vellalar marriage ceremony reflect the superior character, rich culture and high tradition of Kongu Vellalar community.
Who perform rites?
All the ceremonial rites relating to Kongu Vellalar marriage are performed by ‘arumaikaarar’, arumaikaari, naavidhan (barbar), washer man (vannaan) and such others who are closely associated with the occupation of Kongu Vellala Gounders.
An ‘arumaikaarar’, who is a respected elderly member of the community, is the prime person for performing the marriage rites of Kongu Vellalar. The arumaikaarar is also used to be called ‘arumaiperiyavar’, 'seerkaarar’ and ‘pudavaikaarar’. The aruamikaarar should have wife and child/children.
On the specified day, the three arumaikaarars, after planting the ‘Muhurthakaal’, will go to an anthill of white ants, offer prayer, gather sacred earth in three baskets and bring the same to the wedding place.
A women gets the name arumaikaari after the performance of certain rites on her by an arumaikaarar at the time when her son or daughter has attained age for marriage. The rite relating to this is called ‘Ezhudhingam’, as mentioned by Dr. R.Venketeswaran in his research paper titled ‘Vennandhur Vattaara Kongu Vellalar Vaazhviyal’. The arumaikaari (the women who has undergone the process of ezhudhingam) along with the arumaikaarar will perform all the rites relating to women.
The rites being performed on men or women who wish to become arumaikaarar or arumaikaari respectively clearly point out that only those who are respected elders, who are well experienced and who are having spouse and child/children, are qualified to perform the rites of a marriage ceremony.
Naavidhan (Barber):
Next to arumaikaarar, the naavidhan (barbar) plays an important role in conducting the rites of the marriage ceremony of Kongu Vellalar. The naavidhan is called ‘Kudimagan’. The Kudimagan’s important works in the conduct of the marriage are to invite all relatives for the marriage, to perform each and every rite of the marriage ceremony along with the arumaikaarar, to recite the ‘mangala vaazhthu’ song and to announce and call the relatives concerned before performing each rite.
Vannaan (Washer man):
The marriage pandhal (a temporary shed with a roof made of plaited coconut leaves) will be decorated with colorful clothes on all sides including the top by the washer man. Cloths will be laid down on the path to enable the newly wedded couple to walk on the same when the couple comes to the decorated marriage platform.
Potter (Vetkovar):
The vetkovar is one who makes earthen pots. The Sangam works praise the potter as a vessel-making king. The potter will make and supply earthen pots required for performing the marriage rites. There was an agreement between Kongu Vellalar and potters to the effect that the potters will receive paddy and money from the Kongu Vellalar in return for the post supplied, as mentioned in ‘Madurai Pattayam’ (grant inscribed on copper plate).
Paraiyars (Men from paraiya caste):
The paraiyars will beat the Kettle –like drums and make loud musical noise during the marriage of kongu Vellalar.
The `Kammaalar` are artisans who work in wood. The kammaalar will make and supply all the agricultural instruments and tools required by the Kongu Vellalar.
They will also make and supply things such as wooden plate, ladle, salt box, special box with five compartments used to keep spices for cooking, which are required for performing the rite `madaikalam vaithal` in the marriage ceremony.
The pandaarams used to perform pooja for village gods. The pandaarams are also very good in cooking and they undertake the work of cooking also in Kongu Vellalar marriages.
Maadhaari (shoemaker):
The maadhaari or sakkili people are also involved in Kongu Vellalar marriages. These people make new chappals for bridegroom as well as bride and give them for a consideration. Wearing of new chapples made and supplied by the maadhaari is also a rite in Konge Vellalar marriage ceremony.
Porutham paarthal (Examination of the agreement of horoscopes):
Tholkaappiyar says that there are ten aspects of agreement (porutham) to be looked in to between the boy and girl. They are birth, quality of family, strength, age personality, attachment, humility, compassion, knowledge and wealth.
Sagunam paarthal (Being guided by omens):
Apart from seeing the horoscope, there was also the practice of taking guidance from omens (sagunam paarthal) in temples of respective ‘kuladheivams’. Keeping flowers in front of god and watching the movement of the flower, listening to the voice and sound of lizard are some of omens, which are looked at before taking a decision on matrimonial matters. Only if the omen is good and positive, the green signal for the marriage will be given.
'Mullai paattu, a Sangam Tamil poem, says that aged women will worship the God with paddy and flowers, praying for permission to take the decision on marriage alliance and hoping that good things will happen in future by this deed.
Mutual visit to the houses of bride and bridegroom After coming to a decision that the proposal for marriage is satisfactory and can be gone through, the bridegroom’s family members and close relatives will visit the house of the bride and see for themselves the state of affairs, the house, the land, quality of living, status and other such things and in the same manner, the bride’s family members and close relatives will visit the bridegroom’s house. Only after knowing and evaluating all these aspects and getting themselves satisfied with all relevant matters, will consent be given to the next stage called betrothal (nichayadhaartham).
Betrothal (Nichayadhaartham or nichaya thaamboolam):
After taking a decision that the marriage can be conducted, an auspicious day will be chosen and on that day, the bridegroom’s family along with relatives and friends will go to the bride’s house. The bride’s parents as well as bridegroom’s parents are called ‘Sambandhi’. A plate containing fruits, betel and areca nut will be kept on a tripod. Persons from bride’s side and the bridegroom’s side will sit opposite to each other, with the tripod kept in between them and start holding discussions. The bridegroom’s side will tell the bride’s side that they have come to request their consent for the marriage alliance and the bride’s side will reciprocate by giving their consent with pleasure. Then the two sides will exchange plates containing coconut and fruits. The girl will be called and given a plate containing new dresses and presents. After receiving the same, the bride will enter the dressing room and come out after wearing the new dress given by the bridegroom’s side. The bride will be asked to keep in her lap betel, areca nut, turmeric, lemon, etc. and pay regards and respect to the elders present on that occasion to grace the betrothal function. By mutual consent, the date and time and the venue of the marriage are fixed. Thereafter, the bride’s family hosts a feast called ‘parupanchotru virundhu’ (feast including rice and dhal) to mark the end of the betrothal event. In this context, it is to be pointed out that the bridegroom’s side will not take food in bride’s house unless and until the marriage is fixed and confirmed. This has been mentioned by Pulavar T.P.Chinnasami in his book ‘Thirumana Sadangugalil Panpaadu’.
Invitation for marriage:
Nowadays marriage invitation cards are printed and mostly sent by post. Only close relatives and close friends are invited personally by handing over invitation cards. In those days, the kudimagan used to go to each and every house in person for extending the invitation for marriage. The kudimagan will also specify the number of invitees in each house for the marriage. Even if person from the bride’s family or bridegroom’s family invited personally, the invitees will not attend the marriage unless the kudimagan comes in person and extends the invitation. Such was the importance attached to the extends the invitation. Such was the importance attached to the kudimagan’s invitation in those days in Kongu Vellalar marriages.
Rites before marriage:
As soon as the marriage is fixed, the relatives will voluntarily come forward to involve themselves in all the work relating to the marriage in bride’s house and bridegroom’s house. The relatives consider it an honour to go to the marriage house and do the works relating to the marriage. Work such as steaming paddy, cutting firewood, serving food to guests, erection of pandhal for the marriage is carried out only by relatives. All these actions and deeds show that in Kongu Vellalar community, the relatives are given due respect and that they render help voluntarily, bound by strong love and affection. The Kongu Vellalar marriage is an ancient one. It has unique qualities. The various rites in Kongu Vellalar marriages are conducted by an elderly person of the Kongu Vellalar community itself, called ‘Arumaikaarar’. Raising of sacrificial fire and chanting of vedic hymns do not find a place in the marriage ceremony of Kongu Vellalar. The marriage rites reveal the fine qualities and rich traditions of Kongu Vellalar community. Wide publicity is given for the celebration of temporary structure (pandhal), cutting firewood and the loud beating of musical instruments. The events and rites such as ‘pariyam’ idudhal, betrothal, kulam kodhudhal and muhurthakaal naattudhal serve as evidence for the marriage. The rite “Aarathi eduthal” (a plate containing water mixed with turmaric and lime waved before newly married couple), “Senjoru aindhadai suttrudhal” (waving rice balls before newly married couple), and ‘Arugumanam seidhal’ are performed with a view to eliminating the blight caused due to evil eyes. Fasting and ‘Kaappu Kattudhal’ are rites which mark the determination of the bride and the bridegroom to enter into a new life . Tying of thaali by the bridegroom around the neck of the bride and exchanging of garlands in the presence of all gathered for the marriage ceremony mark the completion of the wedding. The blessings for the couple through mangala vaazhthu song are also considered to be the blessings of the people present for the marriage ceremony. ‘Tharrai varthal’ and ‘Kaithalam pattrudhal’ are rites which point out the rights and responsibilites of the bride and the bridegroom. Events such as steaming of paddy (nel vega vaithal), Cutting firewood and erection of pandhal (temporary structure) indicate the closeness among relatives. The rite ‘thaayudan unnal’ (‘thaayudan unnal’ is a very good quality) adds glory to the women community. The rite ‘inai cheer’ is a rite which shows the admirable quality of protecting the rights of women. Coming closer of relatives (bride’s family and bridegroom’s family) is made known and exhibited by rites such as ‘Kai Korvai’, ’seer koodai’ procession and ‘pudhy kalandhunnal’. The rite ‘paadha poosai seithal‘ signifies the respect shown by the bride and the bridegroom for their parents. The rite ‘naattukal valhipaadu shows that any important event or activity is commenced only after paying regards and respect for community leaders and obtaining their blessings. When other communities have opened their gateway for Aryan and priestly rites, Kongu Vellalar community has not accepted the above rites for purpose of following. The main purpose of today’s marriage movement is that all the marriage rites should be performed only in Tamil. This is being followed fully in Kongu Vellalar marriages. In each and every marriage, it is natural that certain rites take place. Marriage with out rites means marriage without irrational and foolish rites. Most of the rites of Kongu Vellalar marriages resembles those in marriages of the Sangam age.
Rich culture, high tradition, customs and habits of Kongu Vellalar, who are the indigenous clan of Tamil Nadu, are revealed in the various marriage rites. The Kongu Vellalar is comparable to the best in the world. The Kongu Vellalar, who were the chief architects of agriculture, can feel very proud of their unique and ancient culture, known extraordinary hard work, hospitality, helping nature, harmonious living with nature as well as othercommunities, courage, respecting women, high standards of living, prosperity and support to deserving.
The Kongu Vellalar marriage can be said to resemble the ‘prajaapathyam’ type marriage of the Aryans. In Kongu Vellalar marriage, the bridegroom’s family goes to the bride’s house, propose the marriage and request the consent of the bride’s family for the alliance. After obtaining consent from the bride’s family, the marriage takes place.
Kongu Vellalar Marriage Rites and Marriage Venue:
In the Past, kongu Vellalar marriages took place in bride’s house. In those days, it was the practice that only very close relatives were invited for the marriages. However, nowadays relatives, friends, neighbors and other known persons are being invited in large numbers for the marriages. For want of sufficient space and other needed facilities, the marriages are not held in the houses, but held in marriage halls which have come up in large numbers to suit the budget and requirements of all categories of people.
Marriage Season Dr Sasivalli, in her book ‘Thamizhar Thirumanam’ has stated as follows: Ancient Tamils considered spring (April-May) Season, day with moon and rogini and early morning time suitable for conducting the marriages. With passage of time, changes and modifications took place in season, day and time.
Kongu Vellalar do not conduct marriages in the tamil months of Aadi and maargazhi. Generally, they do not choose even Chithirai for conducting the marriage. Marriages are held mostly in the months of Vaikaasi, Aani and Asvani taking into consideration the fact that the season will be good during these months and also jasmine flower of lovable fragrance which is required in large quantities for the marriage, will be available in plenty during this season. The marriages of Kongu Vellalar are celebrated for three consecutive days The First day event The first day event is called ‘Naal virundhu’. On this day, close relatives of the bride and bridegroom will host feast for the bride’s family and bridegroom’s family respectively. The Second day event On the second day, marriage arrangements will be done by brining together all relatives. Events such as erection of pandhal (temporary shed), cutting of ‘Muhurtha Kaal’, hairdressing of bridegroom by kudimagan, informing the marriage event to village community by drum beating, hosting of feast for the relatives in the bride’s family as well as bridegroom’s family, bridegroom leaving for the bride’s house will take place on the second day. The marriage event will take place in bride’s house. The Third day event The mukurtham will take place on third day. The bride and the bridegroom will be seated on the marriage platform on completion of appropriate rites. The thaali (mangala naan) will be tied by the bridegroom around the bride’s neck and mangala vaazhthu song will be recited.
The marriage events will come to a close with the serving of grand feast to all relatives, friends and neighbors. The marriage events will be performed by a respected elderly person of the community itself called arumaikaarar. This section explains the various events of the marriage ceremony. All the rites are performed only in the Tamil language.
Kongu Vellalar Marriages in Tamil Literatures Kongu Vellalar had held high positions such as chieftains and army generals. Hence rites relating to government administration and war find their places in Kongu Vellalar marriages The events such as bridegroom riding a horse in olden days, giving gifts and presents including weapons are examples of the above. The main occupation of Kongu Vellalar was agriculture and they excelled in it by their hard work and dedicated efforts. Hence agriculture related rites such as boiling paddy and seer koodai formed part of the marriage rites of Kongu Vellalar.
‘Mangala vaazhthu’ song:
The mangala vaazhthu song, which is, recited only in kongu Vellalar marriages. This song explains in detail and in sequence all the events related to a marriage from the beginning to the end. The song has been written in such a way that it describes the marriage events in a grand manner as if it is taking place in a king’s family. The Status, life, style, culture, and nature of society and relationship of Kongu Vellalar are very well brought out by the above song. The mangala Vaazhthu song is qualified to be spoken literature.
The art of marriage Kongu Vellalar strives their best to lead a successful and prosperous domestic life after marriage.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

கொங்குச் சமுதாயம் .‘ஊருக்குக் ‘கொத்துக்காரர்’, நாட்டுக்குப் ‘பட்டக்காரர்’, சடங்கு கட்கு ‘அருமைக்காரர்’

கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள் நாடு, மக்கள், கால்நடை ஆகியவற்றைக் காப்பவர்கள் என்ற பொருளில் காமிண்டர் எனப்பட்டப் பெயர் பெற்றனர். காமிண்டர் என்ற பெயரே காலப்போக்கில் ‘கவுண்டர்’ என்று மாற்றம் பெற்றது. கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள் 96 கீர்த்திகள் படைத்தவர் என்பர். கொங்கு வேளாளர் குலங்களில் பல பெயர்கள் தமிழக மூவேந்தர்களையும், சங்க காலச் சிற்றரசர்களையும் நினைவுப்படுத்தும் பெயர்களாக உள்ளது சிறப்புக்குரியதாகும்.

சேரன், வில்லி, வில்லம்பர்,வெளியன்,அந்துவன், பனையன், சோழன், நேரியன், பாண்டியன், வேம்பன், மீனவன் ஆகிய குலப்பெயர்கள் தமிழக மூவேந்தரோடு தொடர்பு உடையவை. பதுமன், பண்ணன், மலையர், காரி என்ற குலப் பெயர்கள் சங்க காலக் குறுநில மன்னர்கட்குரிய பெயர்களாகும். தொடர்பு எதுவும் இல்லாமல் குலப் பெயர்கள் அமையாது. எனவே, கொங்கு வேளாளர் வரலாற்றுச் சிறப்பு ஆராய்வதற்கு உரியதாகும்.

மூவேந்தர்களின் ஆட்சி நிலைக்கக் கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள் பேருதவி புரிந்துள்ளனர். காலிங்கராயன், பல்லவராயன், தொண்டைமான், கச்சிராயன், மூவேந்தவேளான், வாணவராயர், காடவராயன் என்ற உயர் பட்டப் பெயர்கள் கொங்கு வேளாளர் தலைவர்கட்கு அரசர்களால் அளிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளன.

கொங்கு வேளாளர் சமூகத் தலைவர்கள் மீது பாடப்பட்ட இலக்கியங்கள் பல. கொங்கு வேளாளர் பெரும்புகழ் கூறும் கல்வெட்டுகள், செப்பேடுகள், பட்டயங்கள் பலப்பல. 

மேற்கண்ட அனைத்தும் குடத்துள் இட்ட விளக்காகவே இருந்தது.அதை இப்போது பல நல்ல உள்ளம் படைத்த நம் சமூக மக்கள் உலகறியச் செய்து வருகிறார்கள்.

தூய பழக்க வழக்கமும், உயர் பண்பாடும், ஒழுக்கமும், கட்டுப்பாடும், நேர்மையும், வாய்மை தவறாமையும் உள்ள சமுதாயம் கொங்கு வெள்ளாளன் சமுதாயம். நாடுகள் பிரித்து எல்லைகள் வகுத்து தலசுய ஆட்சி முறையை அன்றே நடைமுறைப்படுத்திய சமுதாயம் கொங்குச் சமுதாயம். அதன் சிறப்புக் கருதி கொங்கு நாட்டை வென்று அடிமைப்படுத்திய பிற அரசர்கள் கூட அந்த ‘நாடு’ ‘நாட்டார்’ அமைப்பை மாற்றவில்லை. தங்களுக்கென்று ‘மேழிக்கொடி’ படைத்து, தாங்கள் கூடும் அவைக்கு ‘சித்திரமேழிச் சபை’ என்று பெயரிட்டு ஆவணப்படுத்திய பெருமக்கள் கொங்கு வெள்ளாள பெருமக்கள்.

பதினெட்டு வகையான குடிபடைகளை ஆதரித்து சமய விழா, சமுதாய விழா, குடும்ப விழாக்களில் அனைவரையும் பங்கு கொள்ளச் செய்து தாராளமாக அவர்கட்குத் தானியம் வழங்கி ‘பகுத்துண்டு பல்லுயிர் ஓம்பி’ பொதுவுடைமைச் சமுதாய வாழ்வை நடைமுறைப் படுத்தியது கொங்குச் சமுதாயம். பொதுவாக அவர்களைப் ‘பணி மக்கள்’ என்று மக்கள் உரிமையோடு அழைத்தது கொங்குச் சமுதாயம்.

கொங்கு நாட்டின் மண்ணின் மைந்தர்கள் கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள், குலக்காணியூர், குலதெய்வம், குலகுரு, காணிப்புலவர்கள் பெற்று வாழ்ந்த ஒரே சமுதாயம் தமிழகத்தில் கொங்குச் சமுதாயம் ஒன்றேயாகும்.‘ஊருக்குக் ‘கொத்துக்காரர்’, நாட்டுக்குப் ‘பட்டக்காரர்’, சடங்கு கட்கு ‘அருமைக்காரர்’ ஆகியோரை நியமித்து நீதிநெறிக்குக் கட்டுப்பட்டு வாழ்ந்த சமுதாயம் கொங்குச் சமுதாயம்.

சமய நல்லிணக்கத்தையும், சமூக ஒருமைப்பாட்டையும் உயிர் மூச்சாகக் கொண்டவர்கள் கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள். அவர்கள் வழி படும் குப்பியண்ணன், சாம்புவன் தாழ்த்தப்பட்டவர்கள்.

காடு கொன்று, நாடாக்கி, குளம் தொட்டு, வளம் பெருக்கி, கோயில் எடுத்துப் பல இடங்களில் குடியேறிப் பல்கிப் பரந்து பெருகி வாழும் சமுதாயம் கொங்குச் சமுதாயம். தாங்கள் முன்னோர்களைப் போற்றி வழிபடும் சமுதாயம் கொங்குச் சமுதாயம். கொங்குச் சமுதாயம் பற்றி தமிழகத்தில் மட்டுமல்ல, பிற மாநிலங்களிலும் வெளிநாட்டிலும் உள்ள ஆய்வாளர்கள் பலர் ஆய்ந்து பற்பல கட்டுரைகளும், நூல்களும் எழுதியுள்ளனர். அவர்களில் சிலர் கீழ்க்கண்ட கருத்துக்களைக் கூறியுள்ளனர்.

‘கொங்கு வேளாளர்கள் நல்ல தேகபலம் உடையவர்கள்; மிகக் கடினமாக உழைக்கக் கூடியவர்கள்’. ‘கொங்கு நாட்டார் இனம் மற்ற நாட்டு மக்களை விட வேறு பட்டதாகவே இருக்கும். சொல் ஒன்று வெட்டு ஒன்று என்றே இருப்பார்கள்’. ‘தங்கள் குடும்பத்திற்கோ, குலத்திற்கோ வரும் இழிவைப் பொறுத்துக் கொள்ள மாட்டார்கள். ‘உயர்ந்த கட்டுப்பாட்டுடன் இயங்கிய சமூகம்’

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kongu Nadu (Tamil: கொங்குநாடு)

Kongu Nadu (Tamil: கொங்குநாடு) is a region comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu India. The region is bounded on the west and north-west by the Karnataka state, on the west by the Kerala state, on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Madurai regions of Tamilakam.

There is no definite origin for the word Kongu, several scholars have given their views. The name Kongu Nadu is believed to have been gained from 'Kongadesam', "Konga" a derivant of the term "Ganga", meaning 'land of the Gangas' see Western Ganga Dynasty.Kangayam is the old capial of Kongu Nadu, (Sanskrit: Ganga+eyam = Gangeyam : seat of the Western Ganga Dynasty. Kongu means in Sangam Tamil . A more appropriate meaning is honey or nectar of flowers as the Kongu country had vast stretches of forests. According to V. Ramamurthy, in his 'History of Kongu: Volume 1' says, "It [Kongu] was believed to be rich in honey or nectar of flowers."

The geographical extent of Kongu Nadu is roughly confined to the territories of the ancient Tamilakam.
It was the origin and seat of the Sangam period Cheras.Chera is also referred to as Kongan many times. His mountains are the Kolli Malais and his seat Karuvur on the banks of Anporunai.
The geographical region is called Kongunadu in Tamil, which is derived from Kangu (கங்கு) meaning 'border' (Komaralingam copperplates) and Kanganadu (கங்கநாடு, lit.: the land of the Ganga people).Kangeyam(Sanskrit: Ganga+eyam = Gangeyam : seat of the Western Ganga Dynasty). This region was located within Kaveri catchment basin. 17th century poet Valasundara Kavirayar refers to the borders of Kongunadu in his work Kongumandalasatakam.

Kongunadu comprises the modern day districts of Coimbatore District, Nilgiri District, Tirupur District, Erode District, Salem District, Namakkal District, Dharmapuri District, Karur District, Krishnagiri District (all taluks of these districts), Dindigul District (the taluks of Palani taluk, Oddanchatram taluk, Dindigul taluk, Vedasandur taluk and Kodaikanal taluk northward slopes only), Tiruchirappalli district ( Thottiyam taluk,Pachamalai hills), Villupuram district (Kalrayan hills only), Perambalur district (Pachamalai hills only) and Vellore district (Tirupattur taluk only).

Economy of the Kongu region

Kodumanal was a 2,500-year-old industrial estate discovered in Kongu Nadu.
Kongu Nadu is the most industrialised and prosperous region in Tamil Nadu. The economy of the Kongu region can be attributed mainly to the following fields/industries.
Agriculture/Milk – the whole of Kongu Nadu
Aluminium - Salem
Automobiles – Coimbatore, Karur, Namakkal, Tiruchengode, Erode, Hosur
Cement - Salem, Sankagiri, Coimbatore
Education – Coimbatore, Namakkal. Erode, Tiruchengode
Paper – Karur, Pallipalayam, Erode
Poultry – Namakkal
Pump and Wet grinder – Coimbatore
Sago – Salem
Steel – Salem, Mettur
Textiles – Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Karur, Tiruchengode, Kangeyam, Salem
Turmeric – Erode (largest market in South India), Gobichettipalayam
White Silk – Gobichettipalayam – first automated Silk reeling unit in India
Kongu Nadu has the highest urban proportion in the State and contributes 2/3 of the Tamilnadu's State revenue.

Kongu Nadu Cuisine

The Kongu Nadu cuisine is basically a collection of exotic recipes being created by the people residing in the Kongu region. The cuisine is quite extensive for a simple reason that the region is very vast. Some of the aspects that make Kongu Nadu cuisine very special are:
The recipes have their own nativity and style.
Unlike other cuisines, Kongu Nadu cuisine does not involve marination of any raw material. As a result the food has a different taste and unique texture.
Addition of roasted groundnut paste in curries and Khormas creates a very different flavour
Turmeric is always added into curries as freshly grated and ground after roasting. This gives the product a deep yellow color and an aromatic substance
Kongu Nadu cuisine is not very oily, which is not the case with other cuisines
The cuisine is healthy and nutritious owing to use of considerable amount of pulses
The recipes had no sort of standardization and the recipes found their origin based on the specialty of that particular city of Kongunadu.
"Arisemparupu" is famously known only in Kongu region.
This is evident from the following instances:
Use of copra (dry coconut) due to the abundance of coconut trees in the region.
Pickles happens to form an important part in the food
The traditional Kongu people were mostly vegetarians for religious reason. The word for a slaughterhouse is Kacāppu kaṭai (Tamil: கசாப்பு கடை), where kacāppu was borrowed from Urdu: کسائ‎ kasāy "butcher", because Muslims were the first to butcher for commercial purposes. Beef is taboo; cows are considered divine.
Sweets like Teluvu Halwa,Teluvu Payasam, Elanir Halwa, and Elanir Payasam formed part of the regular food in Kongu Nadu."Oppitu" or "Vazhai" is a type of sweet made with the basic ingredients rice, karupatti (Palm Jaggery) Cardamom, Ghee.


The present day Kongu Nadu is made up of various regions viz., Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Kangeyam, Ooty, Gobichettipalayam, Pollachi, Udumalai, Palani, Dharapuram, Karur, Namakkal, Thiruchengode, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and parts of Tiruchy and Dindigul.
Kongunadu was blessed with enormous wealth, a pleasant climate and distinct features. Kongunadu was ruled over by The Chera, Chola, Pandya, Hoysala, Muslim rulers and finally the British. The Kongu country was one of the earliest territorial divisions and home of the ancient Tamilians. It figures in the earliest Tamil literature that, it has acted as the pass for foreign powers to penetrate or capture the Tamil country. The people of the Kongu country had preserved a characteristic type of culture which seemed to be the sustainable derivation of early "Tamilians"of the south. The puzzling megalithic culture had been widely in vogue in the Kongu country. In earlier times the Three Sovereigns of the Tamil country were the Cheras, the Cholas, and the Pandyas. There is a mention that the victory over the Kongu country to be one of the greatest events in their war-like annals. The history of the Kongu country was an integral saga and was of great value for the compilation of the history of Tamilnadu as a whole.

Archaeological sites

Kodumanal and Perur, villages on the banks of the Noyyal River in the Coimbatore district, were situated on the ancient trade route between Karur and the west coast, across the Palghat gap on the Western Ghats. Both sites have yielded remains belonging to the Sangam age. Roman coins were also found on these sites indicating that trade flourished between Romans and the kings of these regions.
A sword bit and a dagger piece found at the site were put to metallographic test. The study revealed that the sword bit contained a spheroidal graphite phase and forgewelding of high carbon cutting edge on low carbon dagger bit. A thin layer was found coating the cutting edge and probably used to protect it from rust.

Kodumanal was popular for the gem-cutting industry and manufacture of jewels. Sites bearing natural reserves of semi-precious stones such as beryls, sapphire and quartz are located in the vicinity of Kodumanal. Beads of sapphire, beryl, agate, carnelian, amethyst, lapis lazulli, jasper, garnet, soapstone and quartz were unearthed from here. The samples were in different manufacturing stages – finished, semi-finished, drilled and undrilled, polished and unpolished and in the form of raw material. Chips and stone slabs, one with a few grooved beads, clearly demonstrate that these were manufactured locally at Kodumanal
Tamil-Brahmi writings are also found in coins, seals and rings of the Sangam age. Many of them have been picked up from the Amaravathi river bed near Karur. A smaller number of inscribed objects have been picked up from the beds of other rivers like South Pennar and Vaigai.
"The advent of the early historical period in south India is generally dated to the 3rd century BCE. As mentioned earlier, recent archaelogical data from the site of Kodumanal suggests the possibility of earlier beginnings, at least the 4th century BCE."
A musical inscription in Tamil Brahimi was found in a cave in the Arachalur region, dating from the Fourth Century A.D. Iravatham Mahadevan writes that these are syllables used in dance.

Medieval Kongu King List
In Chola times. 'Kongu under autonomous rule narrates the rule of these rulers under the namenclature 'Kongu Cholas'
Achyuta Rayan; (Venadudayar family : அச்சுதராயர் )
Jatavarman Kulottunga cholan?;
Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan;
Kok-kalimurkha Vikrama cholan;
Kokkanadan Viranarayanan;
Kulottunga Cholan;
Maravarman Sundara Pandyan;
Parakesari Vikrama cholan;
Rajakesari Kulottunga cholan;
Rajakesari Vira Narayana devan;
Rajakesari Vira Pandyan;
Rajakesari Virarajendran;
Vira cholan;
Vira Pandyan;
Vira Somisvaran;
Vira Vallalan