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The Tamils are an ethnic group native to the state of Tamil Nadu and parts of Sri Lanka (in

modern times, they are widespread). The history of Tamils dates back to over two millennia. Between 2nd century BC and 6th century AD, a native literature was produced called the sangam literature. Powerful Tamil Kings were constantly in war with each other and the ancient literature talks about military exploits in detail. There is description of various suicides in the military context. One interesting description of martial suicide is Navakandam or Avippali. Another form of
martial suicide mentioned by all the works except Veera soliyam, is Avippali. Tamil inscriptions speak of it as Navakandam. Inscriptions found in many parts of Tamilnadu provide greater information on the practice. Navakandam is the act of a warrior who slices his own neck to fulfil the vow made to korravai the Tamil goddess of war for his commanders` victory in battle. The Kalingathu Parani(10) a work which celebrates the victory of the Chola king Kulotunga and his general Thondaman in the battle for Kalinga, describes the practice in detail. `The temple of korravai is decorated with lotus flowers which bloomed when the warriors sliced their own necks` `they slicethe base of their necks the severed heads are given to the goddess` `when the neck is sliced and the head is severed, the headless body jumps with joy for having fulfilled the vow`. The epics of Chilapadikaram (5: 79-86) and Manimekalai (6: 50-51) mention the practice. To ensure the complete severing of the head, the warrior tied his hair to a bamboo bent taut before he cut his neck. Hero stones depicting this practice are found all over Tamil Nadu, and are called Saavan Kallu by locals. The warriors who thus committed suicide were not only deified inhero stones (saavan kallu) and worshipped but their relatives were given lands which were exempted from tax. An area handbook (Tharamangalam) of the Tamilnadu archeology department notes that `the Nava Kandam sculpture which is found widely all over Kongu Nadu (Coimbatore, Salem) is to be seen at the Tharamangalam Kailasanathar kovil also. The people call it Saavan Kallu. `The practice of Nava Kandam existed in Kongu Nadu till the early part of this [i.e., 20th] century.`. The Avippali form of martial suicide as the ultimate expression of loyalty to one`s commander, is deeply embedded in the Tamil psyche.