Social Life in Sangam Age

In the Sangam Age, the Tamil people had a common language and culture. But, they lived in five different natural landscapes. These natural landscapes or geographical regions were known as Thinais. The five Thinais referred to in the Sangam literature were Kurinji, Mullai, Marudham, Neydal and Palai, Each Thinai was geographically distinct from the other. Moreover, each of these regions had reflected their own social characteristics.


The Kurinji Thinai refers to the hilly region. The people in this region were called Vettuvar and Kuravar. Hunting was their primary occupation. They also cultivated fruits and vegetables and gathered honey. They worshipped Murugan or Seyon.


It is a forest tract with green pastures. The people of this region domesticated animals. The people of the Mullai region were called as Kovalar or Ayar. Being shepherds, they produced dairy products like milk, curd and ghee. Their chief deity was Thirumal or Mayon.


The region Marudham refers to fertile and cultivable lands. Most of the people in this region were called as Vellalars because they practiced agriculture. They cultivated paddy, sugar cane and a variety of fruits like mango, plantain and Jackfruit. Irrigation methods were also known to them. Their chief deity was Indra or the rain God.


Neydal was the coastal region. The people of this region known as Parathavar or Meenavar. Fishing was their natural occupation. They were also famous sailors. A few people of this region produced and sold salt. They were called as Umanar. The God of the Neydal region was Varunan or the God of the sea.


The term Palai refers to the desert region. But, there was no desert in the Tamil country. Therefore, it could be said that whenever there was drought due to failure of rains, that region was called as Palai. The people of this region were called as Maravar or Kalvar. They were forced to live as robbers due to poverty. Maravar were also known for their heroism. These people worshipped the Goddess Kotravai or Kali.

We have already studied about the pre society in the Tamil country. The Sangam age was the continuation of the pre-historic period. As in the pre-historic period, the life of the people in the Sangam age had remained simple and natural. The Sangam Tamils had chosen their occupation according to their natural environment. Although they lived in five different regions, there was a close interaction between them. This interaction had resulted in the development of a common language and culture in the Tamil country.