Tamil scholar, folklorist and anthropologist Tho. Paramasivan, who made a path-breaking study of the Azhagar temple in Madurai, died on Thursday. He was 70.
“His study is a trailblazer because for the first time in Tamil Nadu he had explored the relation between various communities and the temple, even though K.K. Pillai had made a similar attempt,” said folklorist A.K. Perumal.
The book’s popularity is explained by the fact that actor Kamal Haasan introduced it to those who are participating in the Big Boss show. He also posted a condolence message on Twitter.
Paramasivan worked at Thiagarajar College before being appointed as the Head of the Department of Tamil at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. He studied the religion and rituals of Tamils, their food habits, their culture and its changes and the traditional practices among various communities. In an interview, he had discussed the inter-caste marriages necessitated by shortage of brides in certain communities and how the women brought with them the cultural practices of their own communities.
Mr. Perumal said his work, Panpattu Asaivugal, was a masterpiece. It is a collection of essays capturing the cultural symbols and practices of different communities. “In one article, he explains a symbolic ritual performed by a particular community when the husband of a pregnant woman dies.
The ritual is meant to convey that she was already pregnant so that the world should not suspect her,” Mr. Perumal explained.
Ariyapadatha Tamilagam, Theivam Enppathor and Palyamkottai-Oru Moothoor Varalaru are his other books.
A staunch supporter of Periyar and his ideology, he would say that but for Periyar, the Tamils would not have secured honour and dignity.
Paramasivam was of the firm opinion that women remained the mainstay of religion and spiritualism in Tamil Nadu. “Even a feminist may not come forward to give up the right to light ‘kuthuvilakku’ at home,” he said.
DMK president M.K. Stalin condoled the death.