Know the Etymology: 175
Place Name of the Day: Sunday, 19 December 2010


Iluppaik-kadavai

இலுப்பைக்கடவை
Iluppaikkaṭavai

Iluppai+kadavai

The Iluppai tree locality to pass through

Kadavai A locality, boundary, frontier, post or spot to pass through or to cross through (Eezham Tamil place names); Way, passing over, leap, jump (Tamil, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 1109); Way (Eezham Tamil); Doorway having a raised sill to be stepped over; break or opening in a fence with some obstruction at the bottom, usually a wooden bar (Eezham Tamil); Turn-stile (Pingkalam lexicon, MTL); Kadavu: Way, path, direction (Tamil, DED 1109); A pass, place name component (popular in Malayalam place names, also comes in some Tamil Nadu place names); Kada: (verb) To pass through, traverse, cross, pass, transgress, proceed, overcome, exceed, excel (Tamil, DED 1109); Katakka: (verb) To pass over, enter, pass out, transgress, surpass (Malayalam DED 1109); Kata: Way, what is ultimate (Malayalam, DED 1109); Kadappu: Passing over, narrow passage in a wall or hedge (Tamil); Pass over, cross (Telugu); Passage, transgression (Malayalam, DED 1109); Kade: To pass over, transgress, pass, get through, limit, side (Kannada, DED 1109); Kadacu: To pass (Telugu, DED 1109); Kadavaan: Channel cut through ridge of paddy field (Tamil DED 1109); Podduk-kadavai: A hole or a small opening in the fence to creep through from one compound to the other (Eezham Tamil)
Iluppai Also Iruppai, Irumpai, Ippai; The Mahua or Wild Sapota Tree producing sweet flowers and oilseeds, Bassia longifolia/ Madhuca longifolia/ Illipe latifolia/ Illipe malabaricum of the Sapotaceæ family (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 485); Mee, Mee-gasa: The Sinhala name of Iluppai/ Bassia longifolia; Irippa, Iruppa, Ilippa, Iluppa: (Malayalam); Ippe, Hippe: (Kannada); Ippa: (Telugu) – DED 485; Madhooka: (Sanskrit)


Iluppai 1
The honey-laden flowers of Iluppai/ Mee-gas/ Madhuca longifolia/ Illipe malabaricum [Image courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org]
Iluppai 2
Iluppai/ Mee-gas/ Madhuca longifolia/ Illipe malabaricum: foliage and fruits [Image courtesy: Tamil Nadu agricultural University, agritech.tnau.ac.in]
Iluppai, Bassia longifolia/ Madhuca longifolia/ Illipe latifolia/ Illipe malabaricumm, is another majestic and sprawling tree well known in South Asia. It is one of the sacred trees in South Asian cultures, especially in the tribal cultures of Central India.

The tree yields very sweet flowers, which are dried, preserved and are used in distilling a traditional liquor in the tribal belt of India. The collection of the flowers itself is a ritual in the tribal cultures and consumption of the liquor by both sexes is common in social and ritual gatherings.

“When there is no sugarcane mill, the flower of Illuppai is sugar” (Aalai illaa oorrukku iluppaip-poo chakkarai), is a saying in Tamil, reflecting on the sweetness and flavour of the flowers of the Illuppai tree.

The fruits of the tree are a favourite of bats and the seeds are milled to extract a kind of oil that is like butter. The seed cake after extracting oil is called Araippu and that is used by Eezham Tamils as a substitute for soap-nut in washing hair during oil bath.

While Iluppai and its cognates are widely found used in the Dravidian languages as names of the tree, Madhooka, originating from its honey-like, liquor-producing flowers, is the name in Sanskrit. Mahua and Mahuli are the names used for the tree and for the liquor by the tribes of Central India.

The tree is known as Mee-gas in Sinhala, literally meaning the honey tree. Mee is honey in Sinhala and gas means tree.

The Sinhala word Mee for honey corresponds to Migni’ru for honeybee in old Tamil (Changkam diction, Pu’ranaanoo’ru 22:6), Miciri for bee in Kannada, Mes for beehive and Mes-nayi for honey in Gondi, a central Indian Dravidian language (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 4843). The word may have Austro-Asiatic/ Veddoid connections too.

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Iluppaik-kadavai is a village in the Manthai West division of Mannaar district. There is another Iluppaik-kadavai in the Pachchilaippa’l’li division of Ki’linocchchi district.

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Some related place names:




Kadavai: (Eezham Tamil)

Koayit-kadavai: The temple to pass through; Thunnaalai, Vadamaraadchi div., Jaffna dt. The Maaviddapuram temple locality in Valikaamam North div., Jaffna dt. was also known by this name.

Po’rik-kadavai: The locality of traps to pass through; (Such traps are laid for the animals), Karaichchi div., Ki’linochchi dt; Karaveddi div., Jaffna dt.

Paraiya-kadavai: The settlement of drummer community to pass through; Thellippazhai, Jaffna dt.

Ampadda-kadavai: The settlement of barber community to pass through Thellippazhai, Jaffna dt.

Koaviya-kadavai: The settlement of household workers to pass through; Thellippazhai, Jaffna dt.

Nadduva-kadavai: The settlement of the community of musicians and dancers to pass through; A’laveddi, Jaffna dt.

Pa’ndaara-kadavai: The settlement of Veera Saivas to pass through; A’laveddi, Jaffna dt.

Thaddaa-kadavai: The settlement of gold smiths to pass through; A’laveddi, Jaffna dt. (Balasundaram 189)

Angka’naak-kadavai: This locality has a famous Ka’n’naki temple. Probably, the pass of the Angka’n-ammai (Ka’n’naki) temple; or probably the pass of the temple yard (Angka’nam in Tamil, Angkanaya in Sinhala mean a yard); Kantharoadai, Jaffna dt.

Perumaak-kadavai: Perumaa'l-kadavai: The locality of a person called Perumaa'l or a Perumaa'l temple to pass through; Kantharoadai, Jaffna dt. Arumuga Navalar notes this place name as Perumaa'l-kadavai (Nalloor Kanthasuvaami koayil II, 1875, Arumuga Navalar Pirapanthath-thiraddu)

Aayak-kadavai: The pass to pay tax; Punnaalaikadduvan, Jaffna dt.

Vearkuththik-kadavai: The settlement of indigo root diggers to pass through; I’lavaalai, Jaffna dt.

Paddik-kadavai: The cattle pen to pass through; Maaviddapuram, Valikaamam North, Jaffna

Kanthavanak-kadavai: The Kanthavanam temple to pass through; Polika’ndi, Jaffna dt.

Ampan-kadavai: The Ampan village to pass through; Ampan, Vadamaraadchi Northeast div., Jaffna dt.

Kaayaan-kadavai: The Kaayaa tree (Memecylon tictorium) locality to pass through; Thenmaraadchi div, Jaffna dt. (Balasundaram 273)

Chaa’ndaa-kadavai: The settlement of oil-milling community to pass through; Aanaikkoaddai, Valikaamam southwest div., Jaffna dt.


Kadavu: (Kerala)

Thopil-kadavu (Kollam), Bungla-kadavu (vadaserikara), Kaayal-kadavu (Guruvayur), Mukka’n’nan-kadavu (Palakadu), Kadavu (alapuzha, Calicut), Erayil-kadavu (kottayam), Parashani-kadavu, Kambithan-kadavu (Adoor), Chemmeen-kadavu, Chaakyar-kadavu (Thirissur), Muttar-kadavu, Varam-kadavu (Cannanore), Muzhaappilangad-kadavu (Cannanore)

Kadavu: (Tamil Nadu)


Paraman-kadavu, Ki’naththu-kadavu (Coimbatore), Kuli-kadavu (palakad), Aanai-kadavu (Thiruppur)

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Iluppai: (Tamil)

Ira’na-Iluppaik-ku’lam: The tank of twin Iluppai trees; Madu, Mannaar

First published: Sunday, 19 December 2010, 02:03

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