Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Maduraik Kanchi – 590-599

On the auspicious day of Onam,
birthday of golden garland wearing *Maayon,
who destroyed groups of Asuras,
in the hamlets of warriors
scarred with sword marks on their faces
and strong arms calloused by riding elephants,
passionate warriors wearing garland of flowers
and wound marks in their foreheads
obtained in fights with other clans,
engage elephants to fight each other;
blue cloth spread over a fence of caltrops
to protect the audience, falls down and pricks them;
people roam around buzzed with pure clarified toddy

*Maayon – Thirumal, Tamil equivalent of Vishnu

கணம் கொள் அவுணர்க் கடந்த பொலந் தார்
மாயோன் மேய ஓண நல் நாள்,
கோணம் தின்ற வடு ஆழ் முகத்த,
சாணம் தின்ற சமம் தாங்கு தடக் கை,    
மறம் கொள் சேரி மாறு பொரு செருவில்,          
மாறாது உற்ற வடுப் படு நெற்றி,    
சுரும்பு ஆர் கண்ணிப் பெரும் புகல் மறவர்  
கடுங் களிறு ஓட்டலின், காணுநர் இட்ட
நெடுங் கரைக் காழகம் நிலம் பரல் உறுப்ப,        
கடுங் கள் தேறல் மகிழ் சிறந்து திரிதர

Onam is today identified solely as the festival of Kerala. It was a festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu too, during th Sangam era and the first millennium. This is a description of Onam celebrated in Madurai during the reign of ‘Thalayalanganathu Cheru Vendra Nedunchezhiyan‘ (Nedunchezhiyan who won the Thalayalanganam battle).

The hamlets around Madurai are getting ready to celebrate the auspicious day of Onam, birthday of Maayon (Thirumal, equivalent of Vishnu). Maayon wears a golden garland and destroyed groups of strong Asuras. In the hamlet of warrior clans, warriors with wound marks on their foreheads and strong calloused arms, wearing flower garlands (that signify that they are ready to battle), engage their elephant to fight each other. The whole town is there to see the spectacle. To protect the audience from elephants, a long fence of spiked caltrops are set up and covered with blue cloth. Due to the rush the fence falls down and the spikes prick the audience. Everyone is pleasantly drunk of pure clarified toddy and happily roaming around.

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