[Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]
[Food Habits Of Medieval period Tamils]
The Sangam Age came to an end during the middle of the Third century A.D.The closing years of the Sangam Age was called the post-Sangam period.Then the Kalabhras captured the Tamil country from the Chera,Chola and Pandyan rulers and These Kalabhras had occupied the Tamil country from the middle of the Third century A.D. to the end of the Sixth century A.D. The North Indian religions,namely Buddhism and Jainism began to spread in the Tamil region.The
traditional religious beliefs of the Tamil people gave way to the new religious ideas.The impulse of these works was oriented towards reforming the society.For example,morality in political and social life had been strictly insisted in the poems of InnaNarpathu, Iniyavai Narpathu and Naladiyar[இன்ன நாற்பது,இனியவை
நாற்பது,நாலடியார்].We have very few sources to study the history of the Kalabhras.This is one of the reasons to call this period as Dark  Age.
By the end of the Sixth century A.D. the Pandyan ruler Kadungon had liberated the southern part of the Tamil country from the Kalabhras.By the same period,the Pallava king,Simhavishnu had captured Tondaimandalam and Cholamandalam from the Kalabhras.Thus,the Kalabhra rule inTamil country came to an end.During the end of the Kalabhra rule,the Bakthi-cult[devotional cults] flourished in the Tamil country through which both Saivism and Vaishnavism began to flourish there. 

Over the years, certain interesting concepts in food appeared. A tradition of vegetarianism,which was largely absent from ancient Tamil Nadu or among the sangam tamils began to emerge,mainly as a result of the popularity of Buddhism and Jainism.Taste was classified into six groups,and all food commodities were divided into two broad categories,hot and cold.The whole of Tamil cuisine is still largely based on this classification which also influenced indigenous medicinal practices:Even a Tamil poetic work,Naladiyar of
the Kalabhra age,speaks about six tastes[அறுசுவை].It says,"While the wife feeds the husband,with love and desire,the different types of foods prepared with six tastes;Being rich and pompous,He takes only one handful leaving the rest untouched,from the varieties of food prepared,the remaining food is wasted".Further,Millets formed a major part of the food in rural areas,consumed until recently.In fact, in remote
villages of Tamil Nadu,food items made of millets were staple food and rice was consumed occasionally.They had nelluchoru (food made of rice) once in a while during festival periods.However,
Over a period of time,the eating habits drastically changed and millets started disappearing from the plates in rural areas.The prayer offered to Lord Muruga in Tamil starts with the words "Thaenum Thinai Maavum" (I offer honey with Thinai flour ie. Foxtail millet) shows how
millets were valued by our ancestors.The gruel made of Thinai was the staple food of ancient Tamils and is called "kali and koozh".It was consumed even during the Sangam era.

7th century Appar refers to eating tortoise in his devotional songs,thevaram.The tortoise["Amai"] is put in a big vessel of water. It feels a bit cold.When people start to cook it,ironically the tortoise feels happy because the water gets to be warm and cozy,It swim and dance in water.It does not realize the oncoming disaster! When the water reaches a certain degree of heat, that tortoise sudden feel the pain and before it could realize that it is in danger, it will suddenly die as water will begin to boil in few seconds gap. 

"the five organs of sense which are like robbers.
remaining surrounding me.
draw near me and make me tremble.
trying the feet.
setting a pot of water on the fire for cooking rice.
in the water which was heated by burning fire.
I who have no clarity like the tortoise which bathes in the water without ceasing.
I am enjoying this life, being exhausted."

PART :21 WILL FOLLOW.........                                                                  


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