Thiruvalluvar Day 2020: History, significance and all you need to know about the iconic poet
Thiruvalluvar, a poet and philosopher, is regarded as a cultural icon by Tamils. His most popular work is Thirukkuṛaḷ, a collection of couplets on ethics, politics, economy and love.
Thiruvalluvar Day was first celebrated on May 17 and 18 in 1935. In the present time, it is usually observed either on January 15 or 16 in Tamil Nadu and is a part of Pongal celebrations. In 2020, Thiruvalluvar Day will be celebrated on January 16.
Who is Thiruvalluvar?
While not much is known about Thiruvalluvar’s life, speculations about it have been largely deduced from his work Thirukkural and other Tamil texts. Earliest references of the poet are found in the text Tiruvalluva Maalai.
Multiple accounts regarding Thiruvalluvar are available but little is known about his family background, religious affiliation or birthplace.
Legends say he may have lived in the town of Mylapore, a neighbourhood in present-day Chennai and flourished between the 4th century and 6th century. Though the period in which he lived is also widely debated with some accounts saying that he lived from 8th to 9th century.
Tamil orator and writer and father of Pure Tamil movement, Maraimalai Adigal deduced 31 BC as the birth year of Valluvar, while Czech scholar in Indian literature and linguistics, Kamil Zvelebil inferred that Thiruvalluvar lived around 500 AD.
Thiruvalluvar’s primary work Thirukkural contains 1330 couplets (kurals) that are divided into 133 sections of 10 couplets each. The text is divided into three parts with teachings on dharma, artha, and kama (virtue, wealth and love).
Social significance of Thiravalluvar
In the early 16th century, a temple dedicated to Thiruvalluvar was built within the Ekambareswarar temple complex in Mylapore, Chennai. Locals believe that this was where he was born, underneath a tree within the temple complex.
In 1976, a temple-memorial called Valluvar Kotam was built in Chennai and houses one of the largest auditoriums in Asia. A 133-foot tall statue of Thiruvalluvar stands at Kanyakumari as well.
Another statue of the legendary Tamil poet was unveiled in Ulsoor, near Bengaluru, in 2009. A statue of Valluvar was also erected outside the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square, London.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)