The month of January has been officially declared as Tamil Heritage Month in Canada; at the federal, provincial and municipal levels of Government. January is an important month for Tamils around the world, as it is also when Thai Pongal, Tamil New Year, is celebrated. January has widely been the month of celebration and prosperity for Tamils. Today, through the GTA, many celebrations and events are hosted in honour of Tamil Heritage Month.
As Canadian-Tamils, and Tamils around the world, it is important for us to recognize the achievements we have made to society, and to understand our roots and how they have shaped us today. We have much to be proud of. From academics, to arts, to politics, we have made many contributions to the societies we live in.
In honour of Tamil Heritage Month, here are some facts about Tamils that you may or may not know. This list is not comprehensive, I just tried to include a few that came to the top of my mind. If there are other facts you know, please share them below!
• There are more 70 million + Tamils around the world. [Tamilnation]
• Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, is a Tamil man. [Google+]
• Email was invented by a Tamil man, V. A. Shiva Ayyadurai. [Vashiva]
• The Father of Library Science, was a Tamil man. He was mathematician and librarian, S.R. Ranganathan. [Britannica]
• Jallikattu is a part of Tamil culture and has been practised for thousands of years. It has been referenced in early Sangam works, including Kalithogai (a classic Tamil poetic work).
• Tamil cooking influences can be seen in other cuisines, and in the English language. For example,
• The English word Curry, is derived from the Tamil word, Kari.
• Maangai has become Mango
• Kanji became Conjee
• Milagu Thaneer (pepper water) became Mulligatawny (a now famous soup)
Language, Literature and Libraries
• Thirrukural, written by Thirruvalluvar in the first century B.C. has been one of the most widely read non-religious books. It has been translated into many different languages and addresses in 1330 couplets how an individual should conduct themselves in personal, family and society.
• There are 12 vowels, 18 consonants, 216 consonant vowels and one aaydham in the Tamil language for a total of 247 characters in Tamil.
• The Roja Muthiah Research Library (RMRL) in Chennai has some of the world’s most impressive private library collections of Tamil publications. When Muthiah passed away in 1992, the University of Chicago bought the entire collection and now conduct research on the materials. [University of Chicago Library]
The Jaffna Public Library in Tamil Eelam, contained more than 95,000 books and journals, including valuable historic manuscripts before it was burned down 1981 as an act of cultural genocide.
On the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary, we acknowledge the enduring presence of our Indigenous communities and recognize the fact that Canada has become home to many communities seeking refuge and opportunities.
The theme for Tamil Heritage Month this year is Roots & Routes. To explore this theme, we are asking the following question: How have your cultural roots, as well as your family’s route(s) to Canada, shaped and continue to shape your identity as a Tamil Canadian today? Through essays, original artwork and public speaking contests, students across the TDSB will be exploring, reflecting on and creatively expressing their answers to this question during Tamil Heritage Month. Learn more about this year’s contests.
Join us for the TDSB Tamil Heritage Month launch:
January 16, 2017
Scarborough Civic Centre Atrium
Tamil Heritage Month was nationally recognized in October 2016, when the House of Commons voted unanimously to recognize every January as Tamil Heritage Month. January was chosen as it coincides with one of the most important celebrations for Canadians of Tamil heritage, the Thai Pongal harvest festival. For farmers in India and Sri Lanka, January is a time of harvest. Thai Pongal is a celebration that offers thanks to the sun and cattle for a good season and abundant harvest.
Many of the 75 million people who are part of Tamil community around the world, mark Thai Pongal irrespective of their religion.
In 2014, the Government of Ontario, with full consent, passed legislation proclaiming January as Tamil Heritage Month. TDSB proudly marked Tamil Heritage Month for the first time in 2016.