Churki/kuDumi

JAYABARATHI jaybee at tm.net.my
Sat Apr 19 04:25:37 EDT 1997


GANESANS at cl.uh.edu wrote:
> 
>       Mr. Ganesan has raised some interesting facts, which can have 
somemore facts added onto.


> RE: CHURKI
> 
>    Is churki/juu.Du attested in Vedas or post-Vedic literature?
> cuuTu is to wear, in Tamil. cuuTu and juuDa look pretty close.
> 
> kuDumi means mountain top, and also churki in Tamil. Sangam Tamil poems
> show warriors wearing kuDumi. Could this be a custom adapted by
> Brahmins from Dravidians and later on, came to
> be associated with Brahmanical culture?  > 
                   Wearing kudumi is a very ancient custom.At least two 
figuirines from Harappa are seen to be sporting kudumi.
                   Kudumi, generally speaking, is  the hair on top of the 
head.Sometimes it is just a tuft of hair, kept at various spots on the 
scalp.The position of the tuft varies according to the caste, profession, 
social standing etc. of the wearer.It also varies in length and density.
                    The kudumi is usually tied into a knot.It may be 
allowed to hang down . Or it may be tied tightly and held in position by 
a head gear or an ornament.
                    According to its position, it is known as either 
"munkudumi"-front knot; "pakkak kudumi"-side lock; "pin kudumi'"-back 
knot; "uchchik kudumi"-top knot.
                    The side knot was kept by the warriors.We can see the 
figures of RajaRaja Chola, Sundara Pandiya, and Tirumalai Naayak adorning 
side kudumies.
                    The " mun kudumi" was kept by certain sects of 
Brahmins. The Choliya Brahmins were among the wearers. Now ,the 
Namboodris have it.
                    There were some factors attached to the kudumi.
                   During a combat, if the kudumi of one of the 
combatants were to come loose, the fight had to be stopped. A respite was 
given, during which the opponent could tie back his kudumi.Only after 
that, could the contest proceed. Even if the combatant had all the 
tactical advantages of the fight, he could not kill an opponent with 
unravelled hair. A victory thus attained was a very ignoble act and was 
an unchivalrous act , condemned by all.
                    Even when running for life , the fugitive had to hold 
tight to his kudumi, which gave rise to the phrase," kudumiyai 
ppidiththuk kondu Oduthal"
                    A totally reckless flight was called,"Thalai viri 
kOlamAy Oduthal".          

> Did Jains always shave off their head? When Tiruvalluvar says,
> "mazhiththalum, nITTalum vENDaa" he seems to refer to the complete shaving
> off by Jain monks and kuDumis of Samnyasis.
>                    The Jaina nonks did not shave their head. In fact they 
were not allowed to.
                  What they practiced was removal of hair.
                  Just before the monk was initiated, the Neophyte had to 
remove his hair. He should not use a razor. He had to pluck off the hair 
with his fingers.All the hair to be plucked off in small tufts or a few 
strands of hair at a time.
                  Therafter , whenever the hair had grown, they had to 
undergo the same ceremony.
                  This ceremony was known as "LOCAM".
                  They had to observe some penances before and during the 
ceremony. They also had to fast. They had to suffer the pain in silence. 
The Tamil Jainas are known to have repeated the phrase,"Ip dhuk;ap suk",
during the procedure.
                  The Tamil Saivites ,who always hated the Jainas with 
all their mind, heart and soul,looked down upon this practice with 
disdain.
                  To them, a starved Jaina monk, in all  solemnity, 
sitting and doing nothing else but occasionally plucking hair
seriously, for days on end, was a subject of irresistible ridicule, 
scorn, and abuse.
                  So, the Tamil Saivites attached a very degrading 
meaning to it and called it "Mayir pidunggudhal".
                  If a person had nothing better to do or was 
procrastinating, they were asked,"mayirA pidungginAy?" ("Were you 
plucking hair?"). This phrase is still in use.
                  Among the Hindu sanyasi orders, there were sanyasis of 
some orders who shaved their heads; there were others who grew their hair 
long.
                  Those with the shaven heads were known as "mottai 
Andi"s; while the hairy ones were known as the "mayir Andi"s
                  The Kapaalikas had uncut, unkept, unkempt, matted hair, 
and smeared their bodies with ash from the cremetotium, or burning ghats.
So, they were known as "Poochchaandi"s (Poochchu=Smear; Poochchu+Aandi)
                  During the course of time, these harmless terms which 
were used to denote the monks according to their appearances, became 
corrupted in meaning and took on a very derogatory nature.
                  Even among the sanyasis of the same sect, there are  
different views and practices of growing or shaving off of the hair.
                  E.g., The chief pontiff of the Saivite Madurai 
Aadheenam is well-shaven, whereas his counterpart, the Swamigal of   
Kundrakkudi sports long hair and beard. 
                  There must have been much controversy regarding this 
issue in those bygone days, that would have prompted Thiru Valluvar to 
have uttered, "malzhiththalum nIttalum vEndA...."

                  I wonder... I just wonder ....
                  How Thiru Valluvar would have looked?  


  By the way, the chinese tale of tying down the churki to a nail in
> the ceiling, during a long night of study for examinations is very current
> in Tamil Nadu. I heard it 30 years ago in my village. I did not know
> it has a chinese parellel.
> 
> Like the Nambudiris, the ChOziya Brahmins were also having kuDumi
> in the front (munkuDumi). Periyavaachchaan PiLLai, Vyakhyana Charavarti
> in Srivaishnavism is a ChOziya Brahmin, if my memory is right.
> There is a proverb "chOziyan kuDumi summa aaDaathu" - "The kuDumi of
> the Brahmin from Chola country does not swing without a reason".
> There is a nice story behind this proverb. If I find out, I will post.
> 
> N. Ganesan               I don't have a story for this. But I have a different 
story involving a Cholzhia Brahmin and his Munkudumi.
                There is an interesting episode involving the poet Kaala 
megam.
                One day, he was attending a feast. Next to him was a 
Cholzhia Brahmin with a side knot, eating away with gusto.Suddenly the 
munkudumi knot untied and fell onto the food. The cholzhia grabbed it 
with his left hand and shook it to dislodge the food crumbs sticking to 
it. The polluted crumbs feel on Kaalamegam.
                He let loose with a litany of curses which took the form 
of a verse.
       
       "Churukk avilzhndha munkudumi chOlzhiyA!ChOtrup
        PoRukk Ularndha vAyA! PulaiyA!- Thiruk Kudandhaik
        KOttAne! NAyE! KuranggE! unai orutththi
        POttALE vElaiyatup pOy!"   

                O Cholzhiya of untied munkudumi!
                With a mouth of dried rice crumbs!
                Chandaalaa!
                Owl of Thiru Kudandhai! (Kumba konam)
                Dog!
                Monkey!
                A woman had dropped you into this earth, having had 
nothig better to do!."
                People are immortalised in poems for different reasons.

                The Siva of Kudumiyaa Malai is known as "Kudumi Naathar"
                There was a king during the Sangam Era , known as 
                "pal yAga sAlai mudhu kudumip peru valzhudhi"


JAYABARATHI


Sungai Petani
Kedah
Malaysia




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