Did You Know
The Jaffna Tamil culture is patrilineal but matrilocal. This is a unique combination of cultural specificity.
The Tamil women born in this region to a father who himself is considered a Jaffna man, enjoys considerable economic privileges through her mother. These complex family and inheritance ties have led to special Property Laws for these people; distinct from other part of Sri Lanka. The matriarch of the family would transfer her own dowry for her daughter’s marriage as dowry. This results in the daughter or daughters living with the matriarch or in close proximity.Another distinct feature of the women of this region is their names –specifically their surnames. An unmarried daughter will carry her father’s first-name at the beginning of her name, as opposed to having her name end with the surname/family name. This assures the partilineage of the woman.Similarly, a married woman carries her spouse’s name in front of her given name. This signifies the patriarchal system that governs these women and region.
The Rich, the Blessed and the Versatile
In general, a Jaffna woman is wealthier than her spouse- at least at the time a young couple marries. The marriage dowry includes a matrilineal inheritance of land, gold, cash and other valuables. So from birth, a female child is ear-marked to be wealthier than its male sibling. A female child is not shunned or considered a burden in this society. Thus, parents encourage education and employment. The women of this region are blessed with having a near 100% literacy rate. Of the 64 Tamil art forms, each girl child is taught 1 or more art forms – dancing, singing, playing a musical instrument, painting etc. So these rather content-looking women actually possess versatile talents.
On The Day
Visit the Ammachchi Unavagam Restaurant, in Thirunelveli run by solely by women. Enjoy the fresh, nutritious, organic breakfast. Next set off in the ferry to the Nainai Nagapooshani Amman temple in Nainathivu Island, to pay homage to the great serpent goddess. Make time to visit the ancient Buddhist Naga Vihare Temple also located in this Island. Alternatively if you do not wish to stretch your sea legs, visit the Veeramakali Amman Temple, in Nallur. This temple is entirely dedicated to a female deity. Join in the religious observation with a simple offering of fresh flowers. Indulge in retail therapy at the Jaffna Palmyrah Handicrafts Centre or the Jaffna Market shop for vibrant clothes, accessories and jewellery.