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Friday, August 30, 2019

தமிழ் மறவன் வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சி : Tamil Yeoman butterfly is TN State symbol


I heard with rapt attention the management talk on how they want the transformation to take place ~ ‘metamorphosis’ !  .. .. … Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation.

தமிழில் "மறம்" என்றால் "வீரம்" என்று பொருள்.  ஒவ்வொரு நாட்டிற்கும், மாநிலத்திற்கும் தனித்தனி அடையாளங்கள் உள்ளன. மாநில சின்னம், மாநில கொடி, மாநில வாழ்த்துப் பாடல், மாநில விலங்கு, மாநில பறவை, மரம், நடனம் என ஒவ்வொன்றிற்கும், ஒவ்வொன்று அடையாளமாக இருக்கும். அதேபோல் தற்போது மாநிலத்தின் வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சியாக தமிழ் மறவன் என்ற வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சியை தேர்ந்தெடுத்திருக்கிறார்கள்.

Onething that comes readily to mind of metamorphosis – is the change from ugly to most beautiful .. .. ‘butterfly’.  Butterflies are some of the most spectacular and beautiful creatures on our planet. There's nothing quite like seeing the vibrant color of their wings floating in a clear blue sky. It is  curious that Mother Nature chose caterpillars to be the starting point?  The process starts when a fully grown caterpillar forms a vessel using nearby twigs and leaves called a chrysalis. This pupa stage can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the species.  A hardened case forms around pupa as a protective layer from predators and weather, while the transformation begins inside. These winged wonders are beautiful to look at.  The monarch butterfly  migrates long distances and reportedly goes ‘winter getaway’ to the warm mountain forests of Mexico. Today, conservationists and eco-enthusiasts are fixated more on the plight — not the flight — of the butterflies.

Apart from India's national emblem, each of its States and Union Territories have their own state seals and symbols which include state animals, birds, trees, flowers etc.  now the news is that Tamilnadu has chosen ‘Tamil maravan’ as its State butterfly status. Locally known as Tamil Maravan meaning ‘Tamilian Warrior’, the canopy butterfly, usually sized between 60 and 75mm, belongs to the family of brush-footed butterflies or the Nymphalid.   The Nymphalidae are the largest family of butterflies with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world, belonging to the superfamily Papilionoidea. These are usually medium-sized to large butterflies. They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies, because they are known to stand on only four legs while the other two are curled up.

‘Thikku theiryatha kattil unnai thedialainthen’  is one of the many songs of the great Tamil Poet Subrahmanya Barathiyar. ‘Thikku Theriyatha kattil’ (in a forest lost in directions) was also the name of a hit movie released in 1972 starring Muthuraman and Lakshmi … a song ‘poopoova paranthu pogum pattupoochi akka’ – a child asking the butterfuly as to who gave it such a beautiful shirt ! – was a grand hit of yesteryears.

Cirrochroa thais, also known as the Tamil yeoman, is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in forested areas of tropical Sri Lanka and India. It is now  the state butterfly of Tamilnadu.  This is the latest addition to Tamil Nadu’s existing symbols from the natural world – palmyra as the state tree, gloriosa lily as the state flower, emerald dove as the state bird, jackfruit as the state fruit and Nilgiri tahr as the state animal.

Tamil Nadu became the fifth State to declare a State butterfly and Tamil Yeoman bagged the distinction. “The medium-sized butterfly may not be considered very beautiful, but has many special attributes because of which it was chosen,” says a conservationist.  “One reason is the name. There are about five butterflies endemic to the Western Ghat that bear the prefix ‘Tamil’ in their names. But this particular species scored high as it is found in abundance across most parts of the State. Secondly, the word ‘yeoman’ is translated in Tamil as ‘maravan’, meaning warrior, which again gave the species an edge over the others,” “Another speciality of Tamil Yeoman is that the species, although endemic to the Western Ghats, can also be sighted in small numbers in the Eastern Ghats and in open country. Except for coastal areas, there are chances of sighting it in all other landscapes,” says Mohan. In 2014, the group of butterfly enthusiasts found the species even in Pachamalai in Tiruchi district, Kolli Hills in Namakkal, Yercaud in Salem and Sirumalai in Dindigul.

Tamil Nadu is the only State to choose a member of the Nymphalidae family, members of which are not considered attractive and colourful. Maharashtra (Blue Mormon), Kerala (Malabar Banded Peacock), Uttarakhand (Common Peacock) and Karnataka (Southern Birdwing), have chosen from Swallow Tails, which are usually big and beautiful with bold patterns.

Interesting .. welcome to State symbol ~ Tamil Yeoman aka Tamil maravan butterfly.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Aug 2019.
Pic credit : GEO Srilanka from Twitter.

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