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Tamil culture is the culture of the Tamil people. The Tamil people speak the Tamil language, one of the ancient languages in the world. Archaeological evidence points to the Tamilakam region being inhabited for more than 400 millennia and has more than 5,500 years of continuous cultural history. Hence, the culture has seen multiple influences over the years and have developed diversely. With Tamils migrating world-wide, the culture has become diverse and forms a significant part of the life of the people in India and other regions with significant Tamil diaspora such as Sri Lanka, South East Asia and Caribbean.

History

Historically, the Tamilakam region, the home of the Tamil people, had been inhabited for more than 400 millennia ago and has more than 5,500 years of continuous cultural history. [1] [2] The Tamils speak Tamil language, one of the oldest surviving classical languages. [3] The Tamilakam region has been ruled over by many kindgoms, major of which are the Sangam era (300 BC–AD 300) rulers of the Chera, Chola, and Pandya clans, the Pallava dynasty (3rd–9th century), and the later Vijayanagara Empire (14th–17th century). [4] Before the Indian Independence in 1947, the region was under European colonization for two centuries during which the Tamils migrated and settled in various regions across the globe. [5] [6] Hence, Tamil culture have seen multiple influences over the years and have developed diversely.

Language

Tamil people speak Tamil, which is one of the oldest languages and was the first to be recognized as a classical language in India. [7] Various varieties of Tamil is spoken across regions such as Madras Bashai in northern Tamil Nadu, Kongu Tamil in Western Tamil Nadu, Madurai Tamil around Madurai, Nellai Tamil in South-eastern Tamil Nadu, Malaysian Tamil in Malaysia and various Sri Lankan Tamil dialects in Sri Lanka. [8] [9] Tamils have a strong attachment to the Tamil language, which is often venerated in literature as Tamil̲an̲n̲ai or Tamil̲thaai ("Tamil mother"). [10] It has historically been, and to large extent still is, central to the Tamil identity. [10] Like the other languages of South India, it is part of the Dravidian languages and unrelated to the Indo-European languages of northern India. [11] The Tamil language preserves many features of Proto-Dravidian, though modern-day spoken Tamil in Tamil Nadu freely uses loanwords from other languages such as Sanskrit and English. [12] The language does not have many commonly used alphabets in English language and Devanagri. [13] The existent Tamil grammar is largely based on the 13th-century grammar book Naṉṉūl based on the Tolkāppiyam and the Tamil grammar consists of five parts, namely eḻuttu, sol, poruḷ, yāppu, aṇi. [14]

Literature

Agathiar, poet from the first Sangam period

Tamil literature is of considerable antiquity and the Classical Tamil literature, which ranges from lyric poetry to works on poetics and ethical philosophy, is remarkably different from contemporary and later literature in other Indian languages. The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and hero stones date from around the 3rd century BC. [15] Tamil literature represents one of the oldest bodies of literature in South Asia. [16] The historical sangam era spanned from 300 BCE to 300 CE. [17] Early Tamil literature was composed in three successive poetic assemblies known as Tamil Sangams, the earliest of which, according to ancient tradition, were held on a now vanished continent far to the south of India. [18] The oldest surviving book is the Tolkāppiyam, a treatise on Tamil grammar. [19] The existent Tamil grammar is largely based on the 13th-century grammar book Naṉṉūl based on the Tolkāppiyam and the Tamil grammar consists of five parts, namely eḻuttu, sol, poruḷ, yāppu, aṇi. [20] The available literature from this period was categorized and compiled in the tenth century CE into two categories based roughly on chronology as the patiṉeṇmēlkaṇakku ("the eighteen greater text series") comprising Ettuthogai (or Ettuttokai, "Eight Anthologies") and the Pattuppāṭṭu ("Ten Idylls"). [21] The Tamil literature that followed in the next 300 years after the Sangam period is generally called the "post-Sangam" literature. [22] [23] The Tamil literary works from the period are the twin epics Silappatikaram and Manimekalai. [24] Another book of the era is the Tirukkural, a book on ethics, by Thiruvalluvar. [25]

In the beginning of the middle age, Vaishnava and Saiva literature became prominent following the Bhakti movement in sixth century CE with hymns composed by Alwars and Nayanmars. [26] [27] [28] In the following years, Tamil literature again flourished with notable works including Ramavataram, written in 12th century CE by Kambar. [29] After a lull in the intermediate years due to various invasions and instability, the Tamil literature recovered in the 14th century CE, with the notable work being Tiruppugal by Arunagirinathar. [30]

In 1578, the Portuguese published a Tamil book in old Tamil script named 'Thambiraan Vanakkam', thus making Tamil the first Indian language to be printed and published. [31] Tamil Lexicon, published by the University of Madras, is the first among the dictionaries published in any Indian language. [32] The 19th century gave rise to Tamil Renaissance and writings and poems by authors such as Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, U.V.Swaminatha Iyer, Ramalinga Adigal, Maraimalai Adigal and Bharathidasan. [33] [34] During the Indian Independence Movement, many Tamil poets and writers sought to provoke national spirit, social equity and secularist thoughts, notably Bharathiar and Bharathidasan. [35]

Art and architecture

According to Sangam literature, there are 64 artforms called aayakalaigal. [36] The art is classified into two broad categories: kavin kalaigal (beautiful art forms) which include architecture, sculpture, painting and poetry and nun kalaigal (fine art forms) which include dance, music and drama. [37]

Architecture

There are a number of rock-cut cave-temples established by the ancient Tamil kings and later by Pandyas and Pallavas. [38] The Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, built by the Pallavas in the 7th and 8th centuries has more than forty rock-cut temples and monoliths including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world. [39] [40]

The large gopuram is a hallmark of Dravidian architecture

Dravidian architecture is the distinct style of rock architecture in Tamil Nadu. [41] In Dravidian architecture, the temples considered of porches or Mantapas preceding the door leading to the sanctum, Gate-pyramids or Gopurams in quadrangular enclosures that surround the temple and Pillared halls used for many purposes and are the invariable accompaniments of these temples. Besides these, a South Indian temple usually has a tank called the Kalyani or Pushkarni. [42] The Gopuram is a monumental tower, usually ornate at the entrance of the temple forms a prominent feature of Koils and Hindu temples of the Dravidian style. [43] They are topped by the kalasam, a bulbous stone finial and function as gateways through the walls that surround the temple complex. [44] The gopuram's origins can be traced back to the Pallavas who built the group of monuments in Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram. [45] The Cholas later expanded the same and by the Pandya rule in twelfth century, these gateways became a dominant feature of a temple's outer appearance. [46] [47] The state emblem also features the Lion Capital of Ashoka with an image of a Gopuram on the background. [48] Vimanam are similar structures built over the garbhagriha or inner sanctum of the temple but are usually smaller than the gopurams in the Dravidian architecture with a few exceptions including the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur. [49] [50]

With the Mugal influence in medieval times and the British later, a rise in the blend of Hindu, Islamic and Gothic revival styles, resulting in the distinct Indo-Saracenic architecture with several institutions during the British era following the style. [51] [52] By the early 20th century, the art deco made its entry upon in the urban landscape. [53] After Independence, the architecture witnessed a rise in the Modernism with the transition from lime-and-brick construction to concrete columns. [54]

Painting and sculpture

Krishna with Rukmini and Satyabhama and his mount Garuda (12th–13th century CE) [55]

Most visual arts are religious in some form and usually centers on Hinduism, although the religious element might be a vehicle to represent universal and, occasionally, humanist themes. [56] Tamil sculpture ranges from stone sculptures in temples, to detailed bronze icons. [57] The bronze statues of the Cholas are considered to be one of the greatest contributions of Tamil art. [58] Unlike most Western art, the material does not influence the sculpture forms and instead, the artist imposes his/her vision of the form on the material in Tamil sculpture. [59]

Sittanavasal is a rock-cut monastery and temple attributed to Pandyas and Pallavas which consist of frescoes and murals from the 7th century, painted with vegetable and mineral dyes in over a thin wet surface of lime plaster. [60] [61] [62] Similar murals are found in temple walls, the most notable examples are the murals on the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam and the Brihadeeswarar temple of Thanjavur. [63] One of the major forms of Tamil painting is Thanjavur painting, which originated in the 16th century where a base made of cloth and coated with zinc oxide is painted using dyes and then decorated with semi-precious stones, as well as silver or gold threads. [64]

Music

Tharai and Thappattai, traditional music instruments

The ancient Tamil country had its own system of music called Tamil Pannisai described by Sangam literature such as the Silappatikaram. [65] A Pallava inscription dated to seventh century CE has one of the earliest surviving examples of Indian music in notation. [66] There are many traditional instruments from the region dating back to the Sangam period such as parai, tharai, yazh, ekkalam and murasu. [67] [68] Nadaswaram, a reed instrument that is often accompanied by the thavil, a type of drum instrument are the major musical instruments used in temples and weddings. [69] Melam is a group of Maddalams and other similar percussion instruments from the ancient Tamilakam which are played during events. [70] The traditional music of Tamil Nadu is known as Carnatic music, which includes rhythmic and structured music by composers such Muthuswami Dikshitar. [71] Gaana, a combination of various folk musics is sung mainly in the working-class area of North Chennai. [72] Villu Paatu is an ancient form of musical story-telling method where narration is interspersed with music played from a string bow and accompanying instruments. [73]

Tyagaraja Aradhana is an annual music festival devoted to composer Tyagaraja. In Tiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district, thousands of music artists congregate every year. [74] Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru is a music festival which has been conducted from 18 to 25 December every year in Chennai. [75] Madras Music Season, initiated by Madras Music Academy in 1927, is celebrated every year during the month of December and features performances of traditional Carnatic music by artists from the city. [76]

Dance

A Bharatanatyam performance

Bharatanatyam is a major genre of Indian classical dance that originated in Tamilakam. [77] [78] It is one of the oldest classical dance forms of India. [77] [79] The dancer is usually dressed in a colorful silk sari with various jewelry and anklets called salangai, made up of small bells. [80] All dancers [81] [82] The dance is characterized by the fixed upper torso with bent legs or flexed out knees combined with various footwork and a number of gestures known as abhinaya using various hand mudras, expressions using the eyes and other face muscles. [83]

A Mayilattam folk dancer

There are many folk dance forms that originated and are practiced in the region. Karakattam involves dancers balancing clay or metal pot(s) on the head while making movements with the body. [84] [85] Kavadiattam is a ceremonial act of sacrifice, wherein the dances bear a kavadi, a wooden stick balanced on the shoulders with weights on both the ends. [86] [87] Kolattam is usually performed by women in which two small sticks (kols), one in each hand are crisscrossed to make specific rhythms while singing songs. [88] [89] Kummi is similar to Kolattam, with the difference being that hands are used to make sounds while dancing instead of sticks used in the later. [90] [91] In Mayilattam, dancers dressed as peacocks with peacock feathers, glittering head-dresses and beak perform to various folk songs and tunes. [92] [93]

Oyilattam, a traditional war dance where few men wearing ankle bells would stand in a line with pieces of colored cloth perform rhythmic steps to the accompanying music. [94] [95] [96] Paampu attam is a snake dance performed by young girls, who wear specifically designed costumes like a snake skin and emulate movements of a snake. [97] [98] Paraiattam is a traditional dance that involves dancing while playing the parai, an ancient percussion instrument. [99] [100] Puliyattam is performed by male dancers who paint themselves in yellow and black and wear masks, fuzzy ears, paws, fangs and a tail, and perform movements imitating a tiger. [101] Puravaiattam involves dancers getting into a wooden frame designed like the body of a horse on his/her hips and make prancing movements. [102] [103] Other folk dances include Bhagavatha nadanam, Chakkaiattam, Devarattam, Kai silambattam, Kuravanji, Sevaiattam and Urumiattam. [104]

Performance arts

Doll marionettes used in Bommalattam

Koothu is a form of street theater that consists of a play performance which consists of dance along with music, narration and singing. [105] The performers wear elaborate wooden headgear, special costumes with swirling skirts, ornaments such as heavy anklets along with prominent face painting and make-up. [106] The art is performed during festivals in open public places and is usually dedicated to goddesses such as Mariamman or Draupadi with stories drawn from Hindu epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, mythology and folklore. [106]such as temples or village squares. [106] The dance is accompanied by music played from traditional instruments and a kattiyakaran narrates the story during the performance. [106]

Bommalattam is a type of puppetry that uses various doll marionettes made of wood are manipulated by rods and strings attached to them. [107] [108] [109] The puppeteers operate the puppets behind a screen illuminated by oil lamps and wear bells which are sounded along with the movements with background music played by traditional instruments. [108] The themes are drawn from various Hindu scriptures such as the Puranas and epics and/with local folklore. [108] Chennai Sangamam is a large annual open Tamil cultural festival held in Chennai with the intention of rejuvenating the old village festivals, art and artists. [110]

Martial arts

Silambattam is a martial dance using a silambam, a long staff of about 168 cm (66 in) in length, often made of wood such as bamboo. [111] [112] It was used for self-defense and to ward off animals and later evolved into a martial art and dance form. [113] Adimurai is a martial art specializing in empty-hand techniques and application on vital points of the body. [114] Varma kalai is a Tamil traditional art of vital points which combines alternative medicine and martial arts, attributed to sage Agastiyar and might form part of the training of other martial arts such as silambattam, adimurai or kalari. [115] Malyutham is the traditional form of combat-wrestling. [116] Vaalveechu is the traditional form of sword fighting. [117]

Tamil martial arts uses various types of weapons such as valari (iron sickle), maduvu (deer horns), vaal (sword) and kedayam (shield), surul vaal (curling blade), itti or vel (spear), savuku (whip), kattari (fist blade), aruval (mchete), silambam (bamboo staff), kuttu katai (spiked knuckleduster), kathi (dagger), vil ambu (bow and arrow), tantayutam (mace), soolam (trident), valari (boomerang), chakaram (discus) and theepandam (flaming baton). [118] [119] Since the early Sangam age, war was regarded as an honourable sacrifice and fallen heroes and kings were worshipped in the form of a Hero stone and heroic martyrdom was glorified in ancient Tamil literature. The Tamil kings and warriors followed an honour code and committed martial suicide to save their honor. [120]

Modern arts

Tamil Nadu is also home to the Tamil film industry nicknamed as Kollywood" and is one of the largest industries of film production in India. [121] [122] The term "Kollywood" is a blend of Kodambakkam and Hollywood. [123] Samikannu Vincent, who had built the first cinema of South India in Coimbatore, introduced the concept of "Tent Cinema" in the early 1900s, in which a tent was erected on a stretch of open land close to a town or village to screen the films. The first of its kind was established in Madras, called "Edison's Grand Cinemamegaphone". [124] [125] [126] The first silent film in South India was produced in Tamil in 1916 and the first talkie was a multi-lingual film, Kalidas, which released on 31 October 1931, barely seven months after India's first talking picture Alam Ara. [127] [128]

Clothing

Kanchipuram silk saris worn by women on special occasions

Tamil women traditionally wear a sari, a garment that consists of a drape varying from 5 yards (4.6 m) to 9 yards (8.2 m) in length and 2 feet (0.61 m) to 4 feet (1.2 m) in breadth that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff, as according to Indian philosophy, the navel is considered as the source of life and creativity. [129] [130] Ancient Tamil poetry such as the Silappadhikaram, describes women in exquisite drapery or sari. [131] Women wear colourful silk sarees on special occasions such as marriages. [132] The men wear a dhoti, a 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, white rectangular piece of non-stitched cloth often bordered in brightly coloured stripes. It is usually wrapped around the waist and the legs and knotted at the waist. [133]

A colourful lungi with typical batik patterns is the most common form of male attire in the countryside. [134] People in urban areas generally wear tailored clothing, and western dress is popular. Western-style school uniforms are worn by both boys and girls in schools, even in rural areas. [134] Kanchipuram silk sari is a type of silk sari made in the Kanchipuram region in Tamil Nadu and these saris are worn as bridal & special occasion saris by most women in South India. It has been recognized as a Geographical indication by the Government of India in 2005–2006. [135] [136] Kovai Cora Cotton is a type of cotton saree made in the Coimbatore. [136] [137]

Cuisine

A traditional meal served on a banana leaf

Rice is the diet staple and is served with sambar, rasam, and poriyal as a part of a Tamil meal. [138] Coconut and spices are used extensively in Tamil cuisine. The region has a rich cuisine involving both traditional non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes made of rice, legumes, and lentils with its distinct aroma and flavour achieved by the blending of flavourings and spices. [139] [140] The traditional way of eating a meal involves being seated on the floor, having the food served on a banana leaf, [141] and using clean fingers of the right hand to take the food into the mouth. [142] After the meal, the fingers are washed; the easily degradable banana leaf is discarded or becomes fodder for cattle. [143] Eating on banana leaves is a custom thousands of years old, imparts a unique flavor to the food, and is considered healthy. [144] Idli, dosa, uthappam, pongal, and paniyaram are popular breakfast dishes in Tamil Nadu. [145] A Tamil cuisine includes a typical virundhu for lunch with poriyal, kootu and kuzhambu. [146] Other dishes particular to the Tamil people include sevai, paniyaram, parotta and opputtu. [147]

Festivals

Jallikattu, a traditional bull taming event held during Pongal festivities, attracts huge crowds

Pongal is a major and multi-day harvest festival celebrated by Tamils. [148] It is observed in the month of Thai according to the Tamil solar calendar and usually falls on 14 or 15 January. [149] It is dedicated to the Surya, the Sun God and the festival is named after the ceremonial "Pongal", which means "to boil, overflow" and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery offered to Surya. [150] [151] [152] Mattu Pongal is meant for celebration of cattle when the cattle are bathed, their horns polished and painted in bright colors, garlands of flowers placed around their necks and processions. [153] Jallikattu is a traditional event held during the period attracting huge crowds in which a bull is released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump on the bull's back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. [154]

Tamils decorate their homes with colorful geometric designs called Kolam made from rice powder [155]

Puthandu is known as Tamil New Year which marks the first day of year on the Tamil calendar. The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the solar Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai and falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar. [156] Karthikai Deepam is a festival of lights that is observed on the full moon day of the Kartika month, called the Kartika Pournami, falling on the Gregorian months of November or December. [157] [158] Thaipusam is a Tamil festival celebrated on the first full moon day of the Tamil month of Thai coinciding with Pusam star and dedicated to lord Murugan. Kavadi Aattam is a ceremonial act of sacrifice and offering practiced by devotees which is a central part of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. [159] [160] Aadi Perukku is a Tamil cultural festival celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month of Adi which pays tribute to water's life-sustaining properties. The worship of Amman and Ayyanar deities are organized during the month in temples across Tamil Nadu with much fanfare. [70] Panguni Uthiram is marked on the purnima (full moon) of the month of Panguni and celebrates the wedding of various Hindu gods. [161]

Religion

As per the sangam era works, the Sangam landscape was classified into five categories known as thinais, which were associated with a Hindu deity: Murugan in kurinji (hills), Thirumal in mullai (forests), Indiran in marutham (plains), Varunan in the neithal (coasts) and Kotravai in palai (desert). [162] Thirumal is indicated as a deity during the Sangam era, who was regarded as Paramporul ("the suprement one") and is also known as Māyavan, Māmiyon, Netiyōn, and Māl in various sangam literature. [163] [164] While Shiva worship existed in the Shaivite culture as a part of the Tamil pantheon, Murugan became regarded as the Tamil kadavul ("God of the Tamils"). [165] [166] [167]

Aiyyan̲ār, guardian folk deity of Tamils

Jainism existed from the sangam era with inscriptions and drip-ledges from first century BC to sixth century AD and temple monuments likely built by Digambara Jains in the ninth century found in Chitharal and several Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions, stone beds and sculptures from more than 2,200 years ago found in Samanar hills. [168] [169] The Kalabhra dynasty, who were patrons of Jainism, ruled over the ancient Tamil country in the 3rd–7th century CE. [170] [171] Buddhism had an influence in Tamil Nadu before the later middle ages with ancient texts referring to a Vihāra in Nākappaṭṭinam from the time of Ashoka in 3rd century BCE and Buddhist relics from 4th century CE found in Kaveripattinam. [172] [173] Around the 7th century CE, the Pandyas and Pallavas, who patronized Buddhism and Jainism, became patrons of Hinduism following the revival of Saivism and Vaishnavism during the Bhakti movement led by Alwars and Nayanmars. [174] [26]

In Tamil tradition, Murugan is the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati and Pillayar is regarded as the eldest son, who is venerated as the Mudanmudar kadavul ("foremost god"). [175] The worship of Amman, also called Mariamman, is thought to have been derived from an ancient mother goddess, and is also very common. [176] [177] In rural areas, local deities, called Aiyyan̲ār (also known as Karuppan, Karrupasami), are worshipped who are thought to protect the villages from harm. [176] [178]

The Christian apostle, St. Thomas, is believed to have preached Christianity in the area around Chennai between 52 and 70 CE and the Santhome Church, which was originally built by the Portuguese in 1523, is believed to house the remains of St. Thomas, was rebuilt in 1893 in neo-Gothic style. [179] Islam was introduced due to the influence of the Muslim rulers from the north in the medieval ages and the majority of Tamil Muslims speak Tamil rather than Urdu as their mother tongue. [180] [181]

As of the 21st century, majority of the Tamils are adherents of Hinduism. [182] Atheist, rationalist, and humanist philosophies are also adhered by sizeable minorities, as a result of Tamil cultural revivalism in the 20th century, and its antipathy to what it saw as Brahminical Hinduism. [183]

Places of Worship

There are more than 34,000 temples in Tamil Nadu built across various periods some of which are several centuries old. [184] Most temples follow the Dravidian architecture, a distinct style of rock architecture. [41] 84 of the 108 Divya Desams, which are Vishnu and Lakshmi temples that is mentioned in the works of the Alvars are located in Tamil Nadu. [185] Paadal Petra Sthalam are 276 Shaivite temples that are revered in the verses of Nayanars in the 6th-9th century CE. [186] Pancha Bhuta Sthalam refers to temples dedicated to Shiva, each representing a manifestation of the five prime elements of nature. [187] Arupadaiveedu are six temples which are dedicated Murugan. [188] Madurai also called as "Temple city" consists of many temples including the massive Meenakshi Amman Temple with Kanchipuram, considered as one of the seven great holy cities being another major temple town with many temples dating back to the Pallava period. [189] [190] Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple is the largest temple complex in India and the biggest functioning Hindu temple in the world with a 236 feet (72 m) tall Rajagopuram, one of the tallest in the world. [191]

Ramanathaswamy Temple located at Rameswaram island forms a part of Ram setu and is said to be sanctified by the lord Rama when he crossed the island on his journey to rescue his wife, Sita from the Ravana. [192] Namakkal Anjaneyar Temple hosts a 18 ft (5.5 m) tall Hanuman statue, one of the tallest in India. [193] There are a lot of temples devoted to lord Ganesha, major of which are the Uchippillaiyar temple in Tiruchirappalli, Eachanari Vinayagar temple in Coimbatore hosting a 6.3 ft (1.9 m) tall idol and Karpaka Vinayakar temple in Pillayarapatti. [194] [195] There are a number of hill temples dedicated to lord Murugan and Amman temples across the state. [196] Swami Vivekananda is said to have attained enlightenment on a rock, located off the coast of Kanniyakumari, which houses the Vivekananda Rock Memorial since 1970. [197] There are various Hindu temples in countries with significant population of Tamil people and people of Tamil origin including South East Asia notably in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar, other countries with significant people of Tamil origin like Fiji, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion, South Africa and Canada, Caribbean countries including Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, countries with significant Indian migrants including United States and Australia. [198] In Sri Lanka, Murugan is predominantly worshiped by Tamil people and numerous Murugan temples exist throughout the island including Kataragama temple, Nallur Kandaswamy temple and Maviddapuram Kandaswamy Temple. [199] [200] Sri Subramanyar Temple at Batu Caves temple complex in Malaysia is dedicated to Murugan, which has a 42.7-m-high statue of Murugan at the entrance, one of the largest Murugan statues in the world. [201] [202]

Erwadi in Ramanathapuram district houses an 840-year-old mosque and Nagore Dargah are important places of worship for Islam. [203] [204] The 16th-century Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is located at Velankanni and was declared as a holy city by the pope is known as the ' Lourdes of the East'. [205] Major Jain temples include Kanchi Trilokyanatha temple, Chitharal Jain Temple, Mannargudi Mallinatha Swamy Temple, Vijayamangalam Jain temple, Alagramam Jain Temple, Poondi Arugar Temple, Thanjavur Adisvaraswamy Jain Temple and Kumbakonam Chandraprabha Jain Temple. [206] [207] Tirumalai is an ancient Jain temple complex in the outskirts of Tirvannamalai that houses caves and Jain temples and a 16 feet (4.9 m) high sculpture of Neminatha dated from the 12th century and the tallest Jain image in Tamil Nadu. [208] The Chudamani Vihara in Nagapattinam was built by the Srivijaya king Maravijayottunggavarman under the patronage of Raja Raja Chola I in early 11th century CE. [209]

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