In Tamil, the poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar is regarded as a cultural symbol. His most popular work is Thirukkuru, which is basically a collection of couples on politics, ethics, economics and love. To honor their contribution, Tamils celebrate Thiruvalluvar Day on January 15 or 16 as part of the Pongal celebrations. Earlier in the 1930s, Thiruvalluvar Day was celebrated on either May 17 or May 18 but in recent years, it has been observed in January. And this year, it is celebrated on January 15th.
Who was Thiruvalluvar?
Aside from his work, little is known about Thiruvalluvar’s life. Mostly people have speculated about it from his work Tirukkural and other Tamil texts. There are multiple accounts related to Thiruvalluvar but no information is available about their family background, religious affiliation or place of birth.
He is believed to have lived in the city of Mylapore, now a neighborhood of Chennai. In the early 16th century, a temple was built at the Ekambareshwar temple complex in Mylapore and was dedicated to Thiruvalluvar. Hence, the locals believe that he was born under a tree in the temple premises at Mylapur.
Not only that, another temple-monument called Valluvar Kotam was built in Chennai in 1976. It has one of the largest auditoriums in Asia, and a 133-foot-tall statue of Thiruvalluvar in Kanyakumari.
The last statue of a Tamil poet was unveiled in 2009 in Ulsur, near Bengaluru.
Although the period in which it existed is also debatable, some claim that it lived between the 8th and 9th centuries. Maraimalai Adigal, a Tamil speaker, writer and father of the pure Tamil movement, dated 31 BC to the birth year of Thiruvalluvar, while Czech scholar of Indian literature and linguistics, Kamil Zvelebil noted that Valluvar lived around 500 AD.
The famous work of Thiruvalluvar
The primary function of Thiruvalluvar is Thirukkural, consisting of 1330 Completes (Kurals). These Kurals are divided into 133 sections of 10 pairs each, and further, the text is divided into three sections – religion, meaning and work, teaching on meaning, virtue, wealth and love.