Jainism has had a fundamental importance in the construction of Tamil culture through the centuries, but has not yet been studied as much as it should. The aim of this project is to describe the Jain cultural and religious heritage of Tamil Nadu through a study of selected temples. The investigation will deal with the history and the architecture, but will also consider living aspects of Jain religious life (worship, festivals, etc.). The output will be a DVD-ROM where the valuable photographs already available in the IFP photo collection will be supplemented by new photographs documented throughout Tamil Nadu the present condition of the temples and the temple-life. The preparation of the DVD is in the final stage.
Even though important on a historical point of view and still alive today, the Jain presence in Tamil Nadu, consisting on the one hand of ancient Digambara communities of the South, and on the other hand of immigrant merchant communities from Western India, is badly assessed. Temples of this region make up for a rich heritage still unrecognised. We wish to make a DVD-ROM that presents the temples in their artistic and religious dimension, as an architectural heritage and living place, and that sheds light on the uniqueness of Jainism in Tamil Nadu.
This study of Jain sites of Tamil Nadu will focus on the architecture, the iconography, the epigraphy, as well as the rites and celebrations. The DVD-ROM will include a map of all the Jain sites in Tamil Nadu and a large photographic documentation based on the Pondicherry photo archives, and enhanced with new photographs taken by the project team. Sites that are the subject of monographs will be selected according to their representatively and their importance in history and in the world today.