Dance School extols Tamil language and culture

Venkat Raman

The beauty of Tamil as a language and the honour of Tamils as people will come centre stage in Wellington on July 15, 2017 thanks to one of the most talented and celebrated Bharata Natyam artistes of New Zealand.

The Programme

Prabha Ravi, who is set to receive Queen’s Service Medal as a part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced on June 5, 2017 and the students of her ‘Natraj School of Dance’ will present the programme, simply called, ‘Tamil.’

The event, supported by Hutt City School is scheduled to begin at 630 pm at Sacred Heart College located at Laings Road in Lower Hutt is a tribute to Tamil, considered to be one of the Six Prime, Original languages of the World (the other five being Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Chinese and Hebrew).

Ms Ravi said that the scripted text in Tamil dates back to over 3000 years.

“Natya Sastra, the Scripture of Dance, which forms the basis of the classical Bharata Natyam was written in Tamil, thousands of years ago,” she said.

‘Tamil,’ will witness the performance of more than 50 students (some of them as young as five years) of Natraj School of Dance.

Natraj School of Dance

Ms Ravi established her school 19 years ago and has trained more than 500 young students and encouraged them to participate in local and national events.

“Indian classical dance is not merely moving the body to a rhythm. It is a discovery of one’s roots, philosophy, mythology, language, culture and many other facets of life. Every child develops his or her personality and mind by learning this dance form. Many youngsters have benefited learning this valuable art,” she said.

For tickets and further information, please call 021 817252; Email: natrajschoolofdance@gmail.com 

About Tamil Language and History

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka and by the Tamil diaspora including Sri Lankan Moors, Burghers, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore and has official status in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and in the Union Government along with Hindi and 20 other languages.

It is also used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is also spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

‘Continuous Language’

Tamil is one of the longest-surviving classical languages in the world. Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions from 500 BC have been found on Adichanallur and 2200-year-old Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions have been found on Samanamalai.

It has been described as “the only language of contemporary India which is recognisably continuous with a classical past.”

The variety and quality of classical Tamil literature has led to it being described as “one of the great classical traditions and literatures of the world.”

A recorded Tamil literature has been documented for over 2000 years. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from ca. 300 BC – AD 300. It has the oldest extant literature among other Dravidian languages.

Epigraphic Records

The earliest epigraphic records found on rock edicts and ‘hero stones’ date from around the 3rd Century BC. More than 55% of the epigraphical inscriptions (about 55,000) found by the Archaeological Survey of India are in Tamil.

Tamil language inscriptions written in Brahmi script have been discovered in Sri Lanka, and on trade goods in Thailand and Egypt.

The two earliest manuscripts from India, acknowledged and registered by the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997 and 2005, were written in Tamil.

In 1578, Portuguese Christian missionaries published a Tamil prayer book in old Tamil script named ‘Thambiraan Vanakkam,’ thus making Tamil the first Indian language to be printed and published.

The ‘Tamil Lexicon,’ published by the University of Madras, was one of the earliest dictionaries published in the Indian languages.

According to a 2001 survey, there were 1863 newspapers published in Tamil, of which 353 were dailies.

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Photo Caption:

  1. Bharata Natyam and Tamil complement each other
  2. Students of Natraj School of Dance

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