The Royal Regalia
The Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, were wealthy and powerful both in the sea and on land. The "Cekaracacekaramalai" and the "Taksina Kailasapuranam" contain references to the golden crown of the Kings of Jaffna. According to C. S. Navaratnam (Tamils and Ceylon), The Crown (Kreedam) of the Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, was conical in shape, made of Gold and studded with priceless gems such as Rubies, Diamonds, Emeralds, Blue Sapphires, Yellow Sapphires and priceless Pearls.
According to C. S. Navaratnam (Tamils and Ceylon) and the "Kailayamalai", The Throne (Cingkacanam) of great splendour of the Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, was made of the best available material and adorned with Ivory, Gold, set with precious gems such as Rubies, Diamonds, Blue Sapphires, Cat’s Eyes and priceless Pearls was placed in the Coronation Hall. According to C. S. Navaratnam, Joao Ribeiro (Army Captain) the Portuguese historian gives a description of one of the Imperial Thrones of the Kings of Jaffna. Among the other articles in the fortress was the Imperial throne which was used by those Kings at their solemn festivals, this consisted of several steps all beautifully craved and inlaid with Ivory, a rare and costly work which the Viceroy had intended to present to the King Dom Sebastian on the occasion of his assuming the sceptre (He was only six years of age at that time). Every effort was made to remove this but the task was found so difficult owing to its great size that finally orders were given that the top alone which was the most precious part of all should be broken off and entrusted to some reliable persons to be carried away, as proof of its magnificence.
The Royal Sceptre (Sengol) an ornamental staff held by a monarch as the symbol of authority and sovereign power. It was made of pure Gold, richly studded with precious stones and priceless pearls.
The Royal Sword (Veera Val) is an ancient symbol of royal authority, justice, power, wealth, dignity, courage and holds a very important place in the History of the Kingdom of Jaffna. Swords were highly valued objects and it was traditionally used during the coronation ceremonies of the Kings of Jaffna and also used on the battlefield.
In ancient times the swords were designed and produced by skilled craftsmen. The swords are made according to the convenience of the kings. Heavy and lightweight swords were used in battles. The sword is considered a prestigious weapon and it was carried for generation by great warriors to bring justice and victory.
During the reign of the Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, bestowed Swords as gifts to dignitaries and nobles. Also Swords were bestowed in recognition of services to the Crown.
Swords were handed down from generation to generation. The Sword after the warrior’s death becomes a sacred object and no longer enters battle. In the ancient times it is kept hidden except for ceremonial uses to summon and transmit the spirit of the warrior. Infect a Sword requires one to treat it with the greatest respect at all times.
The Veeramakali Amman Kovil is a famous ancient Hindu Temple in Nallur, Jaffna. It is situated in the West side of the Nallur Rajadhani. King Cankili (II) Cekaracacekaran, along with his Generals used to first visit this shrine to offer their prayers to the Goddess Veeramakali Amman and seek her blessings before heading to the battlefield. The Royal Sword was placed before the principal deity, special pujas and rituals were performed by the temple chief priest.
The Legendary Sword once wielded by King Cankili (II) Cekaracacekaran, resided at the Veeramakali Amman Temple in Nallur, Jaffna, for several centuries. The sword studded with precious stones and it was about three to four feet in length.
According to the former Veeramakali Amman Temple Trustee (Dharmakarta) in a telephone conversation in 2016, uninvited parties entered the temple 15 years previously and requested the ancient sword from the Chief Priest for an exhibition. The sword was taken from the temple and displayed in a museum. It was never returned to its rightful place in the temple.
Later, the Hindu Temple Management made another model of the sword. But the whereabouts of the Legendary Sword still remains a mystery and it is a priceless heirloom of the Arya Cakravartti Dynasty.
In keeping with royal tradition, The Raja of Jaffna carries the Sword during Official and Ceremonial functions.
The white Parasol fringed with gold tassels and pearls are attached to the end of the hanging tassels. The white Parasol was placed on the throne and various dignitaries were entitled to different parasols and it was also carried in royal processions. The Parasol is a symbol of royal authority and power.
The Coronation Ceremony
The Coronation Ceremony of Cinkai Ariyan was performed with great pomp and splendour as was characteristic of that period. A graphic description of the coronation ceremony is given in the "Kailayamalai". According to Hindu customs and traditions, before any special ceremony a bath is very important and on the coronation ceremonial day the King takes a ceremonial bath. Cinkai Ariyan after his ceremonial bath he arranged his hair, applied sacred ashes on his forehead and worshipped the Gods. Cinkai Ariyan wore an attire of pure silk, shawl and a head cloth and he was adorned with a profusion of jewels, Gold necklace studded with priceless gems, Gold Armlets set with precious stones, Anklets of heroism, rings, a golden waist string of many folds and all the other ornaments. There were various kinds of instruments of music which set forth the voice of thunder, there were white Parasols, chowries, the waving of camphor flames, burning incense and sprinkling of perfumes, blowing of the conch shells and the hums of Brahmins uttering blessings. The Imperial Throne which was studded with precious gems and priceless pearls was placed in the Coronation Hall and the victorious Bull (Nandi Flag) waved majestically. The Arasan was seated on the Throne, facing the east, because east is considered an auspicious direction the sun rises and represents the essence of all beginnings. On the auspicious time the priests chanted the Holy verses, the Chief Priest (Purohita) sprinkled Cinkai Ariyan with sacred water (anointed) who showered blessings on him. One of the important rites in the coronation ceremony is sprinkling the Arasan with the sacred waters. The King (Arasan) was sprinkled with water (not anointed as in Europe) in order to purify the Arasan during his coronation and to ensure an auspicious beginning to his reign.
Cinkai Ariyan was Crowned with great pomp and festivity to the great joy of the countrymen and the royal insignia were handed over to him by Pandi Malavan. On one arm, he held the ritual sword, the sign of regal authority and on the other the mace which was the symbol of power. He was surrounded by his ministers, nobility and his subjects. Cinkai Ariyan upon coronation, he adopted the throne name of “Cekaracacekaran”. Thereafter, Cinkai Ariyan Cekaracacekaran gave free gifts of lands and gold to Brahmans and others. Cinkai Ariyan also performed several kinds Dānas and all over the country there was endless mirth and joy. Later he mounted on the royal elephant that was specially decorated for the occasion and accompanied by courtiers, officers, units of the army and musicians, the Cinkai Ariyan was taken in procession along the main streets of the city. The subjects who had gathered along the main thoroughfares were exceedingly delighted on seeing him and felt relieved of the miseries to which they have been subjected until that time. His subjects paid their respects with due homage, greeted, praised and prayed for the Arasan’s long life and prosperity.
Durbar (The Royal Court)
Cinkai Ariyan Cekaracacekaran after worshipping at Sri Kailasanathar Royal Temple in Nallur, Jaffna, for the dispensation of justice the Arasan made his appearance every day in open Durbar. He enters the durbar dressed in his royal attire and accompanied by his Arasi, bodyguards and personal attendants. As the Arasan approaches the throne he bows to it and ascends it ceremonially. When the Arasan sat in durbar, he sat with his Arasi Thilakavathiyar and on public occasions she did not wear a crown. The victorious Nandi flag waved majestically in the air and the royal couple sat under a white Parasol fringed with gold tassels and pearls. His Chief Minister as well as other ministers, noblemen and officials offer their customary courtesy. The Arasan had able ministers to help him in administering the country efficiently to the satisfaction of his people. The bard of the court or the poet laureate was always present at court and his counsels in times of crisis had profound effect. The court was not wanting in jesters who entertained the member of the court.
The Royal Jewels
The Royal Jewels (Arasa Nakaikal) keeping with the Tamil tradition in the earlier days the Royal Family of Jaffna were profusely covered with gold jewellery with precious stones, gems and priceless pearls from head to toe. Traditionally, jewellery symbolizes power, wealth and status. Gold is considered auspicious and good for health and it is made into ornaments for every part of the body except the feet, where it is worn only by Gods and Kings. The Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, wore heavily decorated conical Crowns made of Gold and studded with priceless gems. They also wore different types of Gold Jewellery such as Gold Necklaces studded with priceless gems, Pearl Necklaces, Gold Armlets set with precious stones, Bracelets, Gold Rings set with precious stones and Gold Earrings set with Diamonds and precious stones. Since ancient times earrings were a predominantly male ornament. Anklets of heroism were the other principal jewels usually worn by the Arasan.
The Female members of the Royal Family were covered with jewellery from the throat to the waist. They wore different types of Gold Jewellery such as Necklaces made of Gold and studded with priceless gems, Choker Necklaces, Gold Rings set with precious stones, Pearl Necklaces, Ornaments for the Nose (Mukuthi), Gold Armlet for the upper arms set with precious stones, Gold Bangles (Valayal), Gold Earrings (Thodu) set with Rubies and Diamonds. The Headset ornaments set with precious stones are worn on the parting of the hair along the forehead. Waist Band (Oddiyanam) made of Gold worn tightly around the waist set with precious stones, Heavy Anklets (Kolusu) and Toe Rings (Metti). The craft of jewellery was given a royal patronage from the ancient times.
During the reign of King Marttanta Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran (1325-1348), Ibn Battuta visited Ceylon in 1344 and he had an audience with King Marttanta Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran. Ibn Battuta states that the King of Jaffna, had in his possession a great number of pearls placed in front of the King and his attendants sorting them out according to their sizes and quality. Marttanta Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran also had in his possession a saucer made of Ruby (Manikam), as large as the palm of the hand, in which he kept oil of aloes. Ibn Battuta was much surprised when Marttanta Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran mentioned that there are Rubies much larger than this. The Royal Jewellery such as Gold, Silver, priceless gems and Pearls of the Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna, had in their possession are priceless. Gemstones have been used throughout ancient history for jewellery. Ruby is a stone of royalty and it is the gem of gems. Historically Rubies were worn by Kings as they believed to bring good fortune, power and strength. The Arya Cakravarti, Kings of Jaffna, had practiced the gifting of Precious Stones, Jewellery, Ivory and Swords to foreign delegates as a medium expression of good-will.
The Royal Attire
Regarding clothing style and design, the Male and Female members of the royal family wore an attire of muslin, a luxurious material and pure silk with lots of gold jewellery. The Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna did not clothe their upper body, due to the climate. But their bare chest was covered with heavy elaborate gold necklaces. They used gold jewellery and different types of silk shawls decorated with precious stones and pearls to cover their upper body.
The Male and Female members of the royal family wore a fit single piece of fabric, with brocade borders, covering their lower part of the body. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched fabric, wrapped in a complex manner around the waist and legs. It is gracefully draped very similar to a dhoti style (Pancha Kaccha) and it was worn tightly around the legs and ankles, and knotted at the waist. The members of the royal family walk majestically, with firmness and great elegance.
The female members of the royal family also used different types of silk shawls decorated with precious stones, pearls and ornaments to cover their upper body. During public appearances and royal audiences, they wore more elaborate attires. By the Fifteenth Century, clothing became more elaborate and colourful, but which did not completely lose the traditional touch. Elaborate attires and jewellery symbolizes power, status and immense wealth.
The Ritual Bath
According to Hindu customs and traditions, before any special ceremony a bath is very important and taking a bath is considered as the most important daily ritual. A ritual bath was taken, usually before sunrise. Taking a bath early in the morning at four o’clock is considered as the most auspicious time facing east.
"Yamuna Eri" the beautiful pond was built by King Cinkai Ariyan Cekaracacekaran and it is situated close to "Manthiri Manai" the Royal Palace at "Cankili Thoppu" in Nallur. Yamuna Eri was built with walls on three sides in the shape of the Tamil letter "ப". The rim of the pond is covered with stone blocks and there are stairs leading down to the pond and a secret underground tunnel connects to the “Manthiri Manai”. The River Yamuna also known as Jamuna is one of the most important and sacred rivers in North India. Water was brought from the sacred Yamuna River and mixed it with the water in the pond, hence it came to be called "Yamuna Eri". During the reign of King Cinkai Pararacacekaran (1478-1591), he redecorated the capital city of Nallur and reconstructed the Yamuna Eri.
Every day the Arasan had a bath, before holding court. After taking a bath Cinkai Ariyan Cekaracacekaran with his Arasi Thilakavathiyar and her entourage used to participate in daily sacred rituals. The Royal Priest performed the daily sacred rituals by offering sweet fragrant flowers and burning incense.
During special occasions and festivals for ceremonial bath, substances such as Sandalwood paste, Sandalwood oil, Saffron (Kunkumampoo), Turmeric, Milk, Honey, Rose water and Rose petals have been used since ancient times and this tradition continuous up to the present day.
Oil bath (Ennai Kuliyal) has been a tradition and has many health benefits from ancient times. It is believed that oil is penetrating inside the body through the head, ears and feet, lowering body temperature and assisting an individual to endure the warm climate. The traditional method of taking oil bath is applying sesame oil or coconut oil and it should be applied all over the body from head to toe. Taking oil bath is good for the health and the oil bath dissolves the toxins and flushes them to centre of the body.
Ancient Grooming Practices
Royalty and both male and female nobles embrace grooming as an essential part of their everyday routines and it have been around since ancient times. Women and Men used fragrance oils to clean and soften their skin. Application of sandalwood paste tones up the skin. Sandalwood oil, Turmeric, Rose water, Curd, Milk, Honey, Fresh fruits and Herbs have been used traditionally. The ritual bath, oil bath and grooming practice it is a tradition that continues to this day.
Queens and noblewomen have used various substances to adorn their faces, including perfumes. Both women and men have been using eye-liner for a very long time. It was produced with a variety of materials and was applied to the upper and lower eyelids. It imparts a cooling effect, healthy and considered to protect against the evil eye. Sandalwood paste, Kunkumam and Vibhuti (White Sacred Ash) were the substances with which the forehead mark was made and these continue to be used to the present day by men and women.
Indeed flowers played an important part in the social and the religious life since ancient times. Flowers were offered to the Gods and adorned their places of worship. Jasmine and other sweet smelling flowers were daily used by the female members of the royal family to tie round the hair. Even the elephants, chariots and horses which went to war were beautifully decorated with flowers and garlands. Flower garlands were worn by men and women round their necks. Flower garlands are also used to welcome guests.
The Present Day Royal Attire
The Turban (Thalai Pahai) still continues to be used in place of the crown. Historically it has been worn by royalty and nobles. The turban is a wrapped headdress made from a length of fabric and can be tied in many ways. It is made of pure raw silk or georgette. The length of the turban is 10 meters long and in front of the headdress a Sarpech studded with precious stones and with a white heron feather is attached to it. The Turban is a symbol of royalty and dignity.
The Sarpech is a traditional Turban ornament regarded as symbol of power and wealth. The Turban ornament is not just an ornament but is something with great significance and a combination of emotion values and meaning. Each piece has been carefully selected and designed by the professional jeweller. The Sarpech has been made once and so far it shines its uniqueness. Each precious stone reveal something likewise.
Ruby: Reveal the ancestors the great warriors who sacrifice their blood for the Kingdom
White Diamond: Bring peace and wellbeing to his country and people
Emerald: This means ever enduring Kingdom
Blue Sapphire: The sky is the limit
Yellow Sapphire: Relates the gold and wealth of the Empire.
The Royal Attire
From ancient times to the present day, clothing became more elaborate and colourful, but which did not completely lose the traditional touch. The Royal Ceremonial Attire is traditionally a long coat which fits close to the body, with a tight fitting collar, fastened in the front with buttons and falls well below the knees. It is made of rich Brocade or Raw Silk decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery with gold thread. They are worn with tight fitting trousers in a matching or contrasting colour.
The Ceremonial Robes: It is made from the finest quality materials. The Ivory brocade robe decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery is worn with white tight fitting trouser. The Black brocade robe decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery is worn with black tight fitting trouser and both are worn for ceremonial occasions. The Black attire with black embroidery is worn with white tight fitting trouser and it is worn during formal functions and events. The Royal Ceremonial Attire is displayed in its regal splendour which represents the People, State and the Country.
Jodhpur Suit are designed to perfectly blend of Indian and western taste. Mostly plain to heavy elegant embroidery on the jacket and standard length closed collar jacket worn with matching formal trousers is also part of the clothing worn.
Kurta With Churidar
Kurta with Churidar is worn as part of the attire on normal occasions. Usually the Kurta opens in the front and it is fastened with four buttons made of gold and set with priceless pearls or precious stones. It has rich hand embroidered work and made out of most colourful of fabrics. Kurta is like a loose long shirt reaching the knees, worn with tight fitting Churidar trousers in a matching or contrasting colour and which gathers at the ankles.
The Shawl can be worn in a number of ways. They are either made of Brocade or pure silk with matching embroidery and gold tassels at both ends and they give a regal and graceful look. The Yellow shawl is reserved only for the Raja of Jaffna.
Veshti is worn at all cultural occasions and traditional ceremonies. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched fabric, usually around 4 to 8 meters long and wrapped around the waist. Veshti is worn with a silk Shirt or a Kurta and with Salv (Angavastram). It is an unstitched piece of fabric is placed over the left shoulder. Veshti is usually white or cream in colour, made of pure raw silk or cotton and borders embroidered beautifully with gold thread. Pattu Veshti are worn during special occasions, official functions and festivals.
Mojaris are considered as the royal ethnic footwear and normally hand crafted shoes made of fine leather without laces. It is delicately embroidered with golden and silver thread all over. With some out fits the Oxford shoes with laces is also been worn.
Sari or Saree is normally 6 to 9 meters long unstitched piece of fabric and gives a very elegant formal look. The Saris are made from many different types of materials and decorated with many different styles of embroidery. They are either made of Banarasi silk, Kashmiri satin silk, Georgette, Cotton silk or in Pure silk. In keeping with royal tradition, for formal occasions and special events Sari is worn by the female members of the royal family and they also wear Salwar Kameez with Churidar.