Niṉaivu malar – A documentation system of Tamils

Niṉaivu malar (நினைவு மலர்) of Tamils is funeral booklet or a memorial booklet in English. They are referred as commemorative publications as a collective term. In western culture, it is a printed or digital publication for the funeral. The commemorative publications will outline the key points in the funeral or memorial service and summarizes the life achievements of the deceased.

Publishing commemorative publications are practiced in many cultures. For instance, Festschrift is a similar tradition in German. In Tamil society, the culture of publishing commemorative publications can be observed among Christians and Hindus. In contrast to Western culture, practice of two kinds of commemorative publications is observed in Tamil society. One of the kinds is the publication at the funeral or at the commemoration day of completion of the first month after the death. The other one is at the death anniversaries, such as 1st, 5th, 10th year or other. Both kinds of commemorative publications will contain mourning poems, biographies, selected works from Tamil literature, memoirs of friends and colleagues, general articles, family tree and more. However, the commemorative publication for the funeral or at the 1st month commemoration day will normally have few pages and contain less. It can look like a leaflet or booklet. On the other hand, commemorative publication for death anniversaries can look like a book or anthology. This might depend on available time for production of a commemorative publications, and age, personal or social engagement, and life achievement of the deceased.

Hero stone worship (naṭukal vaḻipāṭu – நடுகல் வழிபாடு)

The practice of commemorative publications is a primitive culture of Tamils that originates from the hero stone worship (naṭukal vaḻipāṭu/ vīrak kaṟkaḷ; நடுகல் வழிபாடு/  வீரக் கற்கள்). According to the Sangam literature, such as tolkāppiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்) and puṟanāṉūṟu (புறநானூறு), people engraved the name, silhouette, and the greatness of the warrior on a stone, which they planted mostly at the site of a warrior´s burial. The practice of engraving on stone was called inscription (kalveṭṭu; கல்வெட்டு). The evolution of stone engraving tradition became the practice of funeral booklets or memorial booklets (commemorative publications). It is thereby also called “kalveṭṭu nūl; கல்வெட்டு நூல்” (direct translation as inscription booklet), as well as “niṉaivu malar; நினைவு மலர்” (memorial booklet).



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