The top half of photograph is from an unknown source. The bottom half is from Sathiyan. More of his photos can be found here and on his blog.Henk has very good collection of photographs from Madurai. You can check out of his collection at his pbase site.
Now for some mythology and beautiful tamil poetry.
Lord Shiva performed “Thiruvilayadals” for poets who prayed to him for succour. Once the Pandiyan king had a doubt as to whether the scent from a woman’s hair was natural or artificial. He announced a price of 1000 gold coins for anyone who clear his doubt. A poor poet named Tharumi prayed to Lord Shiva to make him get the award.
The Lord gave a poem to the poet and asked him to take it to the King. When this poem was read in the court, Poet Nakkeerar found fault with it and stopped the giving od the prize. Alas! Tharumi’s grief grew and he again appealed to the Lord. He said he was not for not receiving the prize but he could not bear anyone finding fault with the Lord’s poems. Thereupon, Lord Shiva himself came to the court and challenged Nakkeerar. But Nakkeerar could not be cowed down.
Though the divine poet asked him if the hair of Ganapoongodai,the consort of Lord Kalathinathar,whom Nakkeerar worshipped ,did not have the natural scent,the undaunted Nakkeerar asserted that it was so.
Suddenly the Lord opened the eye in his forehead (Netrikkan) which emitted fire and looked at Nakkeerar to show the poet who he was. Even then, Nakkeerar persisted in his statement. As he could not bear the scorching heat, emanating from the divine eye he jumped into the water of the Golden Lotus Tank. Then at the request of the other poets, the Lord took Nakkeerar out of the tank, forgave him and made him study under ‘Agasthiar’, the tamil Sage.
konkutêr vâlkkai yañcirait tumpi
kâmañ ceppâtu kaNTatu molimô
payiliyatu kelîiya naTpin mayiliyar
ceriyeyir rarivai kûntalin
nariyavum uLavônî yariyum pûvê
whose life is passed in search of honey
don’t speak to me of desire
but tell me what you really saw:Could even the flowers that you know
be as full of fragrance
as the hair of the woman
with the even set of teeth and the peacock nature,
to whom long affection binds me? (From http://www.penkatali.org/ )
Now one more couplet form pudhu kavithai by Tabu Sankar.
Kundhalil poovin vasam vesum, Theriyum
Indha poovilo un kundhalin vasamallava vesugirathu!