Know the Etymology: 15
Place Name of the Day: Wednesday, 27 June 2007




The perennial pond.

Nanthaa (Adjective). Anything that doesn't diminish, perpetual, perennial.
Vil/villu Pond, lake or shallow area where water accumulates (usually natural in origins).

The word nanthal or nanthuthal has opposite shades of meaning in the Changkam diction; prospering as well as diminishing.

A phrase from Changkam literature, 'nanthu tho'rum maadda', means lighting a lamp whenever it goes off. Here, nanthu means 'extinguishing'. The adjective nanthaa is the opposite form of nanthu.

Nanthaa vi'lakku is a phrase widely found in the Tamil inscriptions. It is a perpetual lamp, donated to a temple with an endowment to look after that it doesn't get extinguished.

Nanthaa vil, therefore means that the pond will never go dry. The name that it is a perennial pond, is further attested by a saying in the locality:

    “Naadu vi'lainthaal Nanthaavil vi'laiyaathu.
    Nanthaavil vi'lainthaal naadu vi'laiyaathu.”

What is meant is that if the cultivation is good in the country, Nanthaavil will not have any. But, if the cultivation is good in Nanthaavil, it will be bad in the rest of the country.

Nanthaavil is the shallowest area of the locality. Therefore, flood waters accumulate here. If there is good rainfall, Nanthaavil will be flooded and cultivation wouldn't be possible. If the rains are bad, cultivation will be affected in the country. Yet, Nanthaavil will get some water and crops thrive on the bed and surroundings of the pond.

See our column on vilpattu for the etymology of vil.

Nanthaavil is in the Nalloor division of the Jaffna district, located between Kokkuvil (the pond of cranes) and Koandaavil (the pond of ilanthai, Ziziphus jujuba, vegetation).

Nanthaavil pond
The Nanthaavil pond. Note the well demarcated shallow area which makes the natural pond. Also note the cultivation of crops on the bed and surroundings of the pond. [Google Map]

First published: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 01:00

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