Page:Origin and spread of the Tamils.djvu/58

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SPREAD OF TAMIL CULTURE ABROAD 47 Vaithisvarankoil and other places. In India maidens, married women, male children-all undertake this vow. Next we see the fire-walking ceremonies still current with us and glibly connected with Draupadi Amman, paralleled in the worship of Artemis in Cappadocia. Next we meet with the cult of snakes. It was the totem of the ancient Naga tribes. The association of snake with Siva and also Skanda is indeed reminiscent of the primitive religion. We in South India still worship snakes in the shape of Nāgakkal. There are a considerable variety of patterns. Some slabs contain a simple snake standing. In others a pair of cobras intertwined. Groups of stones are seen in a temple or underneath the sacred tree, generally a pipal or nim tree. Though it is popular in South India, it is still more popular in Malabar. It is connected with the fertility cult. There is still the belief that a barren woman becomes big with a child if she offers proper prayers to the Snake Lord. We have representations of the reptile in the Indus cities on painted pottery, tablets and clay amulets. And this cult was one of the prominent religious cults of ancient Crete. It was associated with symbol of the double axe. Another ancient South Indian cult was the worship of the moon," largely prevalent in Asia Minor and the East Mediterranean. Though the Rg Vedic religion is primarily worship of Nature, yet the moon is not given prominence as an object of cult. But the conception in the South was different. The worship of the moon is definitely mentioned in early Sangam