Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean have had a thriving Tamil population since 1840 and there was a place called ‘Madras Settlement’ near the airport.
All the early settlers were plantation workers.
‘Madras Sivalayam’ was the first Shiva Temple established in the country. The place of worship is also called the ‘Canra Road Temple.’
There was a priest from Gopichettipalayam (near Coimbatore) in 1910.
Deepavali in Trinidad & Tobago displayed extraordinary pluralism but over the years, people have lost their knowledge of Tamil.
Tamilians moved from servitude to resistance and finally gained freedom.
They were able to retain their self-dignity, preserve and enhance their culture and enrich themselves.
As much as the diaspora loved their origins and roots to the lands of their birth and that of their ancestors, there was a core element a vital bond that holds’ together Tamil-speaking people spread across the globe.
That is the common language of Tamil, with its rich and inspiring manifestations.
The language and the encompassing culture of enduring values have transcended national boundaries.
It continues to bridge and express all thoughts in writings spanning centuries, and into the time zones.
Need for resurrection
The Tamil diaspora share a common bond that is fragile.
There is an urgent need to restore the primacy in Tamil thought and culture.
There is a proposal to launch an International Tamil Centre in the US to create a global vision for the Tamil population and meet all the challenges.
A Tamil University and Cultural Complex is being created to serve the global community of Tamils.
The idea is to foster unity, promote culture, enhance education and enrich the Tamil language. The complex will comprise offices, university and community housing.
This Centre, in course of time, should evolve as an ideal centre to coordinate and bring together the valued aspirations of the global Tamil community for greater achievements and success.
At a global level, apart from newspapers, magazines and other publications, the strongest bond that links the Tamil diaspora is the electronic media.
Tamilians should usefully employ and perhaps emulate the services rendered by ‘Tamil Osai’ (BBC), ‘Veritas’ (the Philippines), IBC (London), and ‘Inbathamil Vanoli (Australia)
The diaspora should also benefit from websites such as www.tamilnation.org; www.tamilnet.com; tamilcanadian.com; www.tamilnatham.com; and many others that offer varieties of contents.
The Tamil film, television and music industries have, in the past three decades, found a niche market among the Ddiaspora and their marketability is said to be next only to Hindi films and music in the competitive overseas market.
V Sivasupramaniam passed away on October 10, 2012 in Seychelles where he spent more than 27 years of his career. He was a former employee of Education Service in his native Sri Lanka. He also worked in Nigeria and was a freelance writer resident in Auckland. The above article is the fifth and final in a series that began in our July 1, 2012 issue. The knowledge and contributions of this great scholar will be remembered for generations to come.