Nedunalvaadai (Tamil: நெடுநல்வாடை, neṭunalvāṭai, meaning long pleasant breeze of winter) is a Tamil poetic work in the Eighteen Greater Texts (Pathinenmaelkanakku) anthology of Tamil literature, belonging to the Sangam period corresponding to between 100 BCE–100 CE. Nedunalvaadai is part of the Ten Idylls (Pattupattu) collection, which is the oldest available collection of long poems in Tamil literature. Nedunalvaadai contains 188 lines of poetry in the akaval metre. It was authored by Nakkirar I. Nedunalvaadai poems belong to the Akam, or subjective themes of love and human relationships and utilises the location of the story to spins a vivid picture of the ancient Tamil country. It contains descriptions of the palace of the Pandya king Nedeunchezhiyan.
Nature of Nedunalvaadai
The story of Nedunalvaadai is about the heroine who prays to the goddess for the return of her lover from the battlefield. Seeing the suffering of the heroine, her maids in the palace also pray to the goddess for the hero to quickly win the battle and return home to their mistress.
Around this centre core, the poet paints a beautiful picture with descriptions of the heroine's palace, the hero in the battlefield and the description of the cool breeze that flows through the palace and the battlefield to cool the hearts of the pining lovers. The cool breeze with the hint of rain, moisture carrying, spreads everywhere. This breeze promises rain and brings coolness to the weather making the shepherds and their flock shiver. The monkeys in the forest are hurt by the cold weather, birds struck by the coolness fall from the sky; suckling calves are turned away by the cows. The cold weather flowing through the streets of the towns scatter the people and drive them indoors. They are so inebriated they cannot feel the cold. The cold weather darkens the sky so that the people have no means of telling the time to light the lamps. The cruel cold breeze flows through the battlefield keeping the hero awake. He goes around at midnight to converse with his wounded soldiers and look at his horses.
Meaning of Nedunalvaadai
Nedunalvaadai in keeping with its name, has the theme of the vatai, or cold breeze. The two adjectives netu and nal to the vatai breeze mean long and good. The poem in akaval metre is long in 188 lines hence the adjective "nedu". same breeze is at the same time is bad to the heroine who languishes in the palace and increases her suffering, at the same time, the breeze causes the hero to do good by conversing and consoling his suffering troops.
Ambiguity in classification
Nedunalvaadai is classified as an akam poem because the hero and the heroine remain anonymous. According to the ancient grammatical treatise Tolkappiyam, if the subject of a poem is an identifiable person, then the poem ceases to be an akam. Or subjective poetry and becomes a more tangible puram poetry. An ancient commentator to this book argued that, since in one sentence in this poem there is a mention of a vembu flower adorning the spear of the hero, he could be identified to belong to the Pandya dynasty. Thus the character is no longer anonymous.
- http://tamilnation.co/literature/pathinen/pm0070.pdf Nedunalvaadai eText at Project Madurai