10 deep-rooted Tamil habits that have kept us strong and safe
Tamilians continue to be rooted in their culture and traditions no matter the demands of changing times. Customs handed down from generations have kept families together, ensured healthy habits, and inculcated the value of discipline. Here are a few Tamil traits that have stood the wisdom of ages, in a world full of synthetic cosmetics and virtual relationships.
1. Tamilian food is based on medicinal concepts.
Dishes are classified as hot or cold, according to the effects their ingredients have on the body. This is taken into account while preparing food for meals at different times of the day. For example, curd rice and buttermilk are cooling components of a meal that no Tamilian can do without. The probiotics in these dishes help cool the body down, aid digestion and are good for intestinal health.Dishes with peppercorns and chillies, on the other hand, are best consumed in the winter months when the body needs the extra heat.
2. Regular oil baths.
Regular oil baths, with tradition dictating that men have it on Wednesdays and Saturdays and women, have it on Tuesdays and Fridays, have been practised in Tamil Nadu from days of yore. Massages with oils infused with herbs have been known to keep bodies supple and healthy while also ensuring regular hygiene.
3. Learning and living with arts.
A young girl who does not know the rudiments of Bharatnatyam or a boy uninitiated into Carnatic classical music is a rarity in a Tamilian household. These arts do not just instil an additional skill, but also contribute towards keeping the body lean and fit through rigorous breathing exercise and physical routines.
4. Benefiting from purity of water.
Washing hands and feet before entering temples, taking an early bath every morning, offering prayers with wet clothes on or standing in chest-deep waters during rituals – all rituals, underscore the importance of water for Tamilians. Besides its religious significance as a purifier, in effect, these practices have also ensured that cleanliness is maintained at all times in a Tamil household. Majority of homes, in fact, disallow footwear inside the home! It is a well-known fact that water enhances electromagnetic activity and is highly beneficial for the human body in many ways.
5. Use of herbs for skin & health care.
Herbs have been used in Tamilian households in food, for skin care, and as medicines for eons. Plants like tulsi, aloe vera, and neem along with ingredients like turmeric and ginger have been staples nourishing body and skin for centuries.
6. Minimal wastage in mass meals.
The traditional way of eating food off a banana leaf has stood Tamilians in good stead for ages. It makes sure you are eating off a hygienic surface and the used leaf, served to cows afterwards, ensures minimum wastage. Even the symbolic meaning of folding the leaf inwards indicates your pleasure with a meal well enjoyed.
7. #GoSafeOutside for communal activities
No weddings or communal events are planned during July and August, which coincide with the Tamil month of Aadi. Religion may again dictate this norm, but the logic behind it is sound. Monsoon months are most prone to transfer of contagious diseases and this tradition has ensured that infections are curbed during these vulnerable months.
8. A practical wardrobe
The Kanjeevaram may be the preferred garment for special occasions, but Tamilians have always preferred loose flowing cotton clothes that serve practicality in the equatorial climate of southern India. The sari and the vaeshtti (dhoti) make eminent sense in the hot weather, helping keep the body cool by allowing the skin to breathe. The angavastram and the thundu are accessories that are draped according to use, most often doubling up as a practical sweat towel!
9. Choosing jaggery over sugar.
Using jaggery to sweeten dishes is a typical Tamilian custom that has stood the test of time. The preference of jaggery over sugar continues to enrich diets with micronutrients like iron, calcium, and phosphorous. Needless to say, it helps prevent anaemia, strengthens the nervous system, and aids digestion.
10. Remember the ‘Deepavali Marundhu’?
The traditional medicine, made and served on Diwali, is a concoction of omam (dried oregano), milagu (black pepper corns), jeeragam (cumin seeds), sukku (dried ginger), sitharathai, arisi-thippili (long pepper), and kanda-thippili. It effectively counters the ill effects of excessive consumption of sweets and savouries during the festival of lights.
Some traditions never fade away. Like the use of Neem Oil rich Hamam. Around for more than 80 years, this soap has promised a halo of safety around us, no matter the season. The fragrance of Hamam is not lost on any Tamilian. Do you agree? Trusted by generations of mothers to protect her family against skin problems like acne, rashes, blemishes, and to strengthen their immunity, Hamam has inadvertently become a tradition itself.