Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The ‘பறை ’ used by ஆண்டாள் !

The பாவை நோன்பு is associated with the beating of the பறை by the girls.

If we probe what this 'parai' was, we would be surprised to know that many types of 'parai' were used in those days, depending on the appearance, occasion and the need.

Going through the instances of 'parai' as found in Sangam literature, we are able to identify the parai that AndaaL had used.

To begin with let us see the meaning of Parai.

PaRai has three meanings in Tamil lexicon.

"பறை பறை வசனத்தோடு

பறக்கும் புள் -இறகு முப் -பேர் "

says ChoodamaNi Nigandu.

PaRai means

(1) the drum called paRai.

(2) 'word' and (3) 'bird's wing'.

pRaidhal has its origins in this word and

it means to announce or declare or convey something.

This paRai as an instrument to convey something was very much part of life of ancient Tamils.

12 different types of பறை are found in புற நானூறு

The types are dependent upon the occasion the parai is used and also its appearance and the quality of sound.

They are as follows.

(1) அரிப்பறை :- The sound of this is that of rubbing something on some soft surface (aritthal).

It is comparable to the sound of the rub of the bird's wing on the plants of the field when it flies off the field

This appears in texts as a comparison with some soft sound, say, the sound of ornaments rubbing with each other.

(2) அனந்தன் பறை :- This has a dull sound but not an auspicious one.

This paRAi is usually beaten by haunted women

who beat this parai after smearing the blood of the dead fallen in the battle field,

on their hair!!

Vultures get attracted to this paRai and reach the battle field.

(3) ஆகுளிபறை


(4) சிறு பறை :- Both these are small in size, can be easily held in hand and used along with singing.

Mostly the singers (paaNar) in olden days

carry this paRai along with 'yAzh' (a kind of light veena that can be hung on the shoulder.)

Both Yaazh and this paRai are used simultaneously or separately while singing.

From different texts of yore,

it is known that this parai is usually beaten in early hours

before sun rise in praise of the king or God.

(5) சல்லிப்பறை :- This is also known as 'perum paRai', a big drum –

used at the time of processions and for making announcements.

(6) சாக்காட்டுப்பறை :- This is used only at the time of death.

Is also known as saavu-p-paRai.

(7) செருப்பறை :- This is beaten when the king goes out to the battle field.

This PaRai is carried by drum-beaters

in front of the elephants that go to the war-front.

(8) போர்ப்பறை :- This is also beaten at times of war.

This is to announce that the king had started for the battlefield to snatch victory.

(9) நெய்தல் பறை :- This is similar to Saa-k-kaattu-p-paRai, beaten at the time of death.

This paRai was used by the people of Neidhal -

those living on the sea shore.

(10) தடாரிப்பறை :- This is the common drum used by many in the ancient land of Tamils.

This is also known as 'kiNai-p-paRai' or

'pambai-p-paRai' or

'உடுக்கை '.

This is the drum held by Shiva during his cosmic dance.

The image of Nataraja holds this.

(11) ஒரு கண் பறை . This means the one-eyed drum!

This is a big-sized drum, with an eye that resembles the foot of an elephant.

This was used in wars and for making announcements.

(12) மணப்பறை :- This is the drum used in marriages.

Apart from the above,

each of the 5 land forms of the Tamils had

their own characteristic parai, yaazh (hand held veena) and paN (song)

Those in hill tracts (kurinji) used 'தொண்டகப்பறை '

(this is in places ending with the word 'kudi', like sirukudi, kunna-k-kudi etc)

Those in desert areas (paalai) used 'துடிப்பறை '

Those in forest tracts (mullai) used 'ஏறுகோட்பறை '

( places end with 'paadi', chEri' and 'paLLi', like vaazhappaadi, aayar paadi etc.)

Those in plains (marudham) used 'மணப்பறை

' and 'கிணைப்பறை '

(places end with 'voor', like putthur, maNavoor etc.)

Those in sea shores (neidhal) used 'மீன்கோட்பறை '

(places ending with 'pattinam' and 'paakkam'.

Chenna-p-pattinam – former name of Chennai – belongs to this area.)

From these information, some idea of the kind of parai

that AndaaL has mentioned in her Thiruppavai can be inferred.

At 9 places, the word paRai has been mentioned by ஆண்டாள்

1. பறை தருவான் , 2. பாடிப்பறை கொண்டு , 3. போர்றப்பறை தரும் , 4. அறை பறை , 5. பறை தருகியாகில் 6. சாலப்பெரும் பறை , 7. உன்றன்னை பாடி பறைகொண்டு , 8. நீ தாராய் பறை 9. இற்றை பறை கொள்வான்

Let us now see what parai was carried by

the aayar girls and AndaaL during their month-long vratham.

The parai used for singing the praise of god in early hours of the day (before sunrise)

was 'aguLi-p-pari' or 'siru parai'.

It was a small and easy to hold drum.

It is possible to assume that this would have been the choice of

young AndaaL and her friends.

There is another way to think if that Andaal had used the parai

that was characteristic of her land, namely Villiputthur.

(putthoor in the name indicates that the place of AndaaL was in marudham or plains).

The parai of her land was, 'kiNai-p-parai' or 'udukkai' or 'tadaari-p-pari'

which was meant for worship of Shiva and

AndaaL would not have used that for the worship of Thirumaal.

There is yet another one, "mana-p-paRai" for Marudham lands.

But that was used only during marriages.

So that is also ruled out.

The easy to be held parai

which goes well with singing the praise of God in the early hours of morning

is the "aguLi-p-paRai"

also known as "siru paRai"

It is therefore proper to assume that AndaaL used Siru parai.

But here again a doubt comes.

At one place AndaaL mentions 'saala-p-perum parai'.

Is this the parai she used?

It can not be.

Because from the meaning of 'saala-p-perum parai'.

it is known that it is the big parai (perum parai)

the Salli-p-parai, which is used in processions.

AndaaL has mentioned 'Saala-p-perum parai' in "MaalE maNi vaNNa" paasuram.

She also mentions about the recital of 'பல்லாண்டு ' to the beating

of the saala-p-perum parai!

This is indicative of a procession, 'புறப்பாடு '

with all accompanying recitals and auspicious music.

In all probability it is about the கருட சேவை she witnessed on that day,

that is most likely to be the day of வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி.

In the present context, we know that AndaaL used Siru parai,

AndaaL has also given a clue about what exact message is conveyed by her parai.

We all know that it is about the 'பேறு ' or 'kataaksham' or 'blessings' or 'servitude' etc

But the mention of அறை பறை (paasuram 16)

which has specific application in Tamil lexicon,

reveals the exact message given by Narayana that

AndaaL along with the aayar girls had been spreading by beating the paRai!

It will be discussed in the next post.

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