Compiled by London swaminathan
Date: 8 December 2016
Time uploaded in London: 13-28
Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.
Following are the floats (tableaus) in the Fifth World Tamil Conference held in Madurai in 1981
THE SOOTHSAYER OF COURTALLAM HILLS
Kuravanchi is a conventional form of Tamil poetry which blends together some of the ways of life of the elites with those of the hunters. Tirukuta Rasappa Kavirayar, a Tamil poet from Melakaram, near Tenkasi in Thirunelveli District, has composed Kutralakkuravanchi which is considered to be the supreme example of this genre of Tamil poetry.
It portrays Lord Siva coming in procession accompanied by his devotees against the background of the natural tapestries of the captivating hills of Courtallam, its flora and fauna and its beautiful waterfalls. With its excellent rhythmic beauty, sensuous style, flexible and tender poetic diction it also depicts the heroine Vasantha Valli falling in love with Lord Siva. She is so captivated by the charms of the handsome Lord that she suffers from insomnia and mental agony which a girl faces due to the pangs of separation from her lover. At this juncture, a woman soothsayer from the hunter’s tribe of Courtallam arrives there singing the beauty of Courtallam and the transcendental glory of the Lord. The words of the foreteller console Vasanthavalli and give her the hope of marrying the Lord. This tableau depicts the foretelling of the soothsayer.
The ancient Tamils have classified the landscape into five divisions namely Kurinchi (Hilly region), Mullai (Pastoral), Marutam (Plain), Neytal (Coastal region) and Palai (Wilderness). While dealing with the poetic conventions of the love poems, they have assigned the Mutarporul (i.e. time and space), Karupporul (i.e. the flora and fauna) as well the Uripporul (i.e. the human drama which forms the poetic theme) for each division of lands. This tableau depicts an event wh ich normally happens in the ancient Kurinchi poems. In the human drama of love, Kurinchi depicts love at first sight. Eventhough the damsel is anxious to embrace the hero, out of her feminine quality namely “nanam” (shyness), she feels reluctant to come near the hero. At this juncture, a ferocious tiger comes on the spot. The fear of the tiger makes her cast away her shyness. Without any second thought she takes refuge in the broad chest of the hero, who protects her and drives away the tiger by his arrow.
Bull fight is one of the heroic sports of the Tamils and has its origin in a very hoary past. In Mullaikkali of Sankam anthology we come across some instances of the hero grappling with a bull and conquering it as a test of bravery. The damsels of the ancient Tamil pastoral used to bring up wild bulls. They were given in marriage to the suitors who successfully conquered their bulls.
According to Mullaikkali, the girl of the pastoral land would not even think of the defeated man as her husband in anyone of her various births. This scene depicts a hero who tries to conquer the bull and a heroine who waits anxiously to garland him after his victory. This sport is in vogue in many parts of Tamilnadu, especially in some parts of Madurai as a sport under the popular name Manchu Virattu.
THE HERO AND THE LANCE
Thiruvalluvar, who glorified agriculture describes a heroic battle in one of his couplets as: “At elephant heads his lance, for weapon pressed He laughs and plucks the spear from his breast be Slaying the elephant in the battle is considered to a supreme kind of heroism by the Tamils. A hero who was nurtured in this heroic tradition fought with an elephant in a battle. He threw his lance on the frenzied elephant which fought fiercely with him. The elephant fell down. When he turned with pride, the victorious hero was hit by the spear of an enemy. At the same time, an elephant also attacked him. Finding no lance ready with him to attack the elephant, he removed the spear which had pierced into his body to throw it on the enemy elephant. Removing the spear, he gloats over the fact that he has a weapon to fight the elephant. Tirukkural describes this thrilling episode and the tableau depicts it.