The Royal Regalia
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 Kailayamalai, The Throne of great splendour (Cingkacanam) 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. 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 and holds a very important place in the history of the Kingdom of Jaffna. It was carried for generation by great warriors to bring justice and victory. 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.
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
Cinkai Ariyan made a triumphant ceremonial entry into his city, with his Arasi Thilakavathiyar at an auspicious time. The coronation ceremony was accompanied with great pomp and splendour as was characteristic of that period. A graphic description of the coronation ceremony is given in the Kailayamalai. Cinkai Ariyan was adorned with a profusion of jewels, Gold necklace studded with priceless gems, Gold Armlets set with precious stones and Anklets made of Gold. Cinkai Ariyan was seated on his Golden Throne in the Durbar Hall. The Arasan sits on his throne facing the east, because east is considered an auspicious direction the sun rises and represents the essence of all beginnings. 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. On the auspicious time the priests chanted the Holy verses, the Chief Priest (Purohita) sprinkled the Arasan 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 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 upon coronation, he adopted the throne name of “Cekaracacekaran”. 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 Arasan 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, 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 jewellery. The use of jewellery was regarded as a symbol of power and wealth. 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. Heavily decorated Crown made of Gold and studded with priceless gems, Necklaces of Pearls, Chokers, Gold Necklaces studded with priceless gems, Gold Earrings with Diamonds and precious stones, Gold Armlets set with precious stones, Bracelets, Gold Rings set with precious stones and Anklets made of Gold were the other principal jewels usually worn by the Arasan. Arya Cakravarti, Kings of Jaffna, had practiced the gifting of precious stones, Jewellery and Ivory to foreign delegates as a medium expression of good-will.
The Female members of the royal family were covered with jewellery from the throat to the waist and wore different type of Gold Jewelleries as Necklaces made of Gold and studded with priceless gems, Rings set with precious stones, Pearl Necklaces, Ornaments for the Nose, Gold Armlet for the upper arms set with precious stones, Valayal (Gold Bangles), Thodu (Gold Earrings) set with Rubies and Diamonds, headset ornaments set with precious stones are worn on the parting of the hair along the forehead, Oddiyanam (Waist Band) made of Gold worn tightly around the waist set with precious stones, Mukuthi (Nose Ornaments), Kolusu (Heavy Anklets) and Metti (Toe Rings). The craft of jewellery was given a royal patronage from the ancient times.
During the reign of Marttanta Cinkai Ariyan Pararacacekaran (1325-1348), Ibn Battuta visited Ceylon in 1344 and he had an audience with 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 Royal Attire
The Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna did not clothe their upper body, as the climate is hot, they did not cover themselves fully. But the bare chest was covered with heavy elaborate gold jewellery and they used different types of silk shawls decorated with precious stones and pearls.
The male and female members of the royal family wore an attire of pure silk and muslin with lot of gold jewellery. They wore a fit single piece of fabric, with brocade borders, covering the 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 covered their upper body with different types of silk shawls decorated with gems. By the Fifteenth Century, clothing became more elaborate and colourful, but which did not completely lose the traditional touch.
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.
The beautiful “Yamuna Eri” was built by Cinkai Ariyan Cekaracacekaran and it is situated close to “Cankili Thoppu” (Royal Palace) in Nallur. Yamuna Eri was built in the shape of the Tamil letter "PA". The rim of the tank is covered with stone blocks and there are stairs leading down to the tank and a 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 Yamuna River and mixed it with the water in the tank, hence it came to be called the "Yamuna Eri". During the reign of 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. Substances such as Sandalwood paste, Sandalwood oil, Kunkumampoo (Saffron), Turmeric, Milk, Honey, Rose water and Rose petals were used during ceremonial bathing. Even today it is been used during special occasions and festivals. 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.
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.
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. Also flower garlands are used to welcome guests.
The Present Day Royal Attire
The Turban (Thalai Pahai) 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 with a white further is pinned. 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
The Arya Cakravartti, Kings of Jaffna did not clothe their upper body, as the climate is hot, they did not cover themselves fully. The male and female members of the royal family wore an attire of pure silk and muslin with lot of gold jewellery. From the ancient times to the present day, clothing became more elaborate and colourful, but which did not completely lose the traditional touch. The Royal 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 Brocade or Raw Silk decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery with golden silk threads. They are worn with tight fitting trousers in a matching or contrasting colour.
The Royal Robes: Ivory colour decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery is worn with white tight fitting trousers. Black colour decorated with heavy zardozi embroidery is worn with black tight fitting trousers. Both are worn for ceremonial occasions. The black royal attire with black embroidery is worn with white tight fitting trouser. It is worn during formal functions and events.
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 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.
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.