While the deity Murukan has been closely identified with Tamil religiosity for at least two millennia, his evolution as a universalistic deity has been greatly influenced by Sanskritic and North Indian traditions. Murukan continues to occupy a prominent role within Tamil Hindu spiritual and cultural life.
Murukan’s origins can be definitively traced to the earliest body of extant Tamil literature, the extensive collection of poetry known as the Sangam and variously dated from 300 BCE to 300 CE. In the earliest phase of Sangam literature, Murukan was clearly identified as a rural deity and was firmly situated within the kurinci tinai (hilly eco-zone) of the Tamil country . Murukan was portrayed as intensely heroic, a deity who vanquished his demonic enemy the cura (soora). His weapon was initially a specially shaped leaf but later transformed into a leaf-shaped lance. A marked feature of early Murukan worship was the frenzied dancing of his devotees and the...
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