Tam: சிவகாசி sivakāci
‘Shiva’s City of Light’ City, Tamil Nadu
From S(h)iva; and Kas(h)i, ‘Varanasi, (City of) Light [Skt: kāśī, ‘light’, ‘splendour’].
Harikesari Parakkirama, a 16thC Pandya king, went to Kasi (Varanasi) to fetch a lingam for a new Shiva temple he was building at Tenkasi. On his return he rested under a vilva tree [Aegle marmelos, or bael, a tree sacred to Shiva]. The cow carrying the lingam refused to budge and the king assumed this was the will of Shiva. He installed the lingam at that very spot and the the place was called Sivakasi and the temple built around it was named the Kasi Viswanathar temple [see Tenkasi (TN) ].
The contemporary city has over 900 units manufacturing firecrackers and matchboxes making it the ‘Fireworks Capital’ of India.
Sivakasi is known as ‘Little Japan’ because of its rapid rate of economic development.