TIRUNELVELI: Jaggery and Tamils cannot be separated as it has been used for several hundreds of years to prepare `Sarkarai Pongal' on the first day of Tamil month of `Thai' and celebrate happy occasions.
A 400-year-old stone sugarcane press found in a farm at Srivaikuntam off the Tirunelveli - Tiruchendur highway by a team of archaeologists here has confirmed the association. Though sugarcane presses had been found by archaeologists on several occasions, the latest one is unique as it carries inscriptions. The neatly carved groove and the cavity of the press demonstrate the Tamils' expertise in designing stone articles with exceptional skill. Since the press has been lying in the farm for several centuries, the ranch is popularly known as `chekkadi vayal.'
Deity owns it
The owner of the press is Sri Kailaasanathar, the presiding deity of a nearby temple. Inscriptions found on the press say: "This sugarcane press should be used only to meet the jaggery requirements of the Sri Kailaasanathar Temple. If people use it for other purposes, they should give one `thulaam' (nearly 2 kg) of jaggery to the temple. Otherwise, it will be a great sin."
Renowned archaeologist M. Senthil Selvakumaran of the Department of Archaeology, Tirunelveli, curator of Courtallam museum C. Chandravaanan and copier Ulagaiah copied the inscriptions.
"Soon this rare sugarcane press may be shifted to the Palayamkottai museum," Dr. Senthil Selvakumaran told The Hindu .