Origins of Tamils?[Where are Tamil people from?] PART -:70

 [Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

There are over fifty-five burial sites in the Indus valley were found,mainly in Harappa, Kalibangan, ,Lothal, Rojdi, and Ropar.The digging of the burial ground has revealed many facts about the funerary practices of the Harappan people.This help us in forming and shaping ideas about their culture and conceptions of the natural,super-natural,life and death.In the Indus Valley tradition,people used to bury the dead with things that belonged to them.On average an individual has 0 to 40 pottery vessels interred as grave goods,The most important individual in the cemetery is an older male.He was interred in a old brick chamber with 70 pottery vessels.The man was also decked in jewelry of expensive nature which includes jade and gold beads and other fine stones.Clearly this shows that the individual who had 70 pots was outranked others in the cemetery proving that the Harappan civilization was a society which gave a lot of importance to hierarchy and status.Also Archaeologists believe from genetic affinities that are exhibited in the female population that newlywed couple moved to live with the woman’s side of the family.In general,burial site of Indus valley are of three types.Type 1 – the bodies were buried in a supine position with skeletal remains.Type 2 – pot burials in circular pits.Type 3 – Large pots which were found interred in rectangular or circular pits with no skeletal remains.The burials in Type 1 – were all in brick or stone lined rectangular or oval pits.The body was usually interred clothed shrouded or in a wooden coffin in the north south direction in a straight direction.It was important that the body did not come into contact with the ground.The only evidence of wooden coffins is the presence of a wooden stain in the body of the corpse.The bodies of the individuals were usually buried with their Jewellery which usually consisted of bangles made from shell,steatite beads,etc, and the men usually wore earrings.Copper mirrors have been found only amongst the bodies of the females which show a specificity of grave goods by gender.The discovery of pottery items and ornaments in the burial grounds also suggest that they might have believed in life after death.The pot burials as in Type 2 – are an interesting and rare type of burial in which the bodies of the individual are crammed into pots and buried.This type of burial is quite unique and quite violent comparatively.The Type 3 burials don’t have any skeletal remains in them but there are a few areas where the earth is charred which could possibly be because of cremation.A few unique burials were found in the grave sites of Lothal,Ropar,and Rojdi.In Ropar a man was found buried with a dog.In Rojdi two infants were found buried beneath the floor of a house.In Lothal three multiple burials have been found.This could possibly be the practice of sati but it is doubtful . Mohenjo daro is one of the biggest cities excavated in this civilization but it has no cemeteries.But there were a few bodies that were found scattered throughout the city in disarray.They are referred to as the “tragedy sites”.There are 5 tragedy sites found all over Mohenjo daro with a total of 42 skeletons.The burials that have occurred in Mohenjo daro are unlike any other.The causes of these burials have been hypothesized due to loss of civic rules and order in the city or an invasion of some kind[aryan?].

The ancient Tamil people also had a fascinating way of treating the dead in
south India.About 3000 years back,When people got older,stopped moving around,and loss eyesight and hearing,these people were moved outside the village,to a specific location.A small stone house called "Madhamadhakka Thazhi" (old age chamber/மதமதக்கத் தாழி) would be erected by the family members.In Tamil language, "madhamadha" means immobile and "thazhi" means a chamber or vessel.Every evening, a woman from the family would visit this chamber to feed the elderly person.and this procedure would go on for several years until the old man/woman dies.When this old man eventually dies,the family would create a huge earthen pot called Mudhumakkal Thazhi (முதுமக்கள் தாழி).In Tamil, mudhumakkal roughly translates to "old people".The body would be placed in a sitting position inside the pot along with his belongings,which hints that they might have believed in rebirth or afterlife.This remind the Type 2 – pot burials of Indus valley.The urn would be placed into a hole dug specifically for the burial. A huge stone slab would be placed on top of this urn and then covered with mud.This was done to make sure that scavenging animals would not be able to dig the corpse out.A small stone pillar (nadukal) would be placed on it to identify the burial location.This implies that the family of the deceased might have performed annual rituals on the burial site.There is yet another theory that very old people who were unable to walk and take care of themselves were buried alive in these urns.The old person inside the vessel would basically suffocate to death.In early Tamil literature,it is also mentioned that sages and saints predicted their end of life and would willingly sit inside these urns.In Sangam literature,Purananuru poems talk about these burial ceremonies as well.These urns were usually buried near the river or village outskirts.In Beemandapalli village,a fancy 8 feet long sarcophagus was unearthed.The sarcophagus,called Eemapezhai (ஈமப்பேழை) was extremely well made and resembles a modern day coffin.The skeleton was found intact,lying in a supine position.This must have been a rich or a noble person.In the same location a smaller sarcophagus was found which contained an infant's skeleton.The sarcophagus used to bury infants are called "Thottil Pezhai" (தொட்டில் பேழை).This again remind the The Type 1 –burial of of Indus valley,where instead of .a wooden coffin,large sarcophagus was used.Mudhumakkal Thazhi funeral system was in custom from 3000 years back till 3rd century A.D. No burial urns from 4th century on-wards have been unearthed.Researchers think that this custom became obsolete around 400 A.D.

Tamil literature ‘Manimekalai,' one of the twin epics of post-sangam period‘ mentions about the methodology and burial practices followed by Tamils in ancient Tamilakam (Tamil speaking region),When,Sutamati asked to know the reason why the goddess called the place by that name.'Sudukattu Kottam',The goddess said along with the other things that,this place,a cemetery or graveyard during sangam periods,is also divided into sections for various forms of disposal of the dead.A small space is set apart for burning corpses;another where the corpses are simply thrown;a third where the corpses are actually buried in graves dug in the earth;others where corpses are set in small chambers made in the earth,their mouths being closed afterwards;and lastly another part where corpses are left covered over by huge earthern pots.Up to the midnight people keep coming and going constantly engaged in one or other of these various five ways of disposing of the dead,and there is unceasing noise in the locality created by the crowd of visitors,the tom-tom beaten for the dead,the sounds of those that recite the merits of recluses that died,the cries of those that weep for the dead,the howling of the jackals and the hooting of the owls.& so on.Hence from this ancient tamil literature Manimekalai' We find the different five modes of disposing of the dead,namely, those who cremate (suduvor), those who simply expose the body and leave it to decay (Iduvar),those who placed into a hole dug specifically for the burial [thodukuzhip paduppor],those who entomb the dead body in small low lying chambers(Thaazhvayin-adaippor) and those who put it in burial urns and cover them up (Tazhiyir-kavippor).

"சுடுவோ ரிடுவோர் தொடுகுழிப் படுப்போர்
தாழ்வயி னடைப்போர் தாழியிற் கவிப்போர்
இரவும் பகலும் இளிவுடன் றரியாது
வருவோர் பெயர்வோர் மாறாச் சும்மையும்" Manimekalai (6-11-66-69)

Sangam Tamil literature which is over 2000 year old also has references to burial urns[ Purananuru 256,228] and cremations[Purananuru 231,240,245,246,363].Song 256 – An Urn for Burial & Song 231-A fire for cremation,are given below:

"Potter O Potter,
I have come with him
through narrow places
like a tiny white lizard
hugging the spoke of a cart wheel
Be kind make me an urn
for his burial in the wide earth
And make it wide
enough for me too
You who makes pitchers for this city,
this wide, old city"[Purananuru 256]

"Let his body advance to the bright cremation
fire, piled up with wood singed with black tips
like those the mountain dwellers cut  on the
burned fields.
If the flame does not wish to do that, let it rise on its
own and touch the sky.  He was like the glowing
sun, his white umbrella like the moon with cool
rays.  His fame will never die!"[Purananuru 231]



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