Tamil youth in UK mark Eezham identity with Ilanthalir event

The Tamil Youth Organisation in Britain hosted Sunday an awareness event for ‘Eezham Thamizh identity’, with an evening of music, drama, dance and poetry. The event, named I’lantha’lir 2011, held at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall, began with the ceremonial raising of the Tamil Eelam flag outside the imposing art deco building, chosen for the quality of the acoustics which make it one of the UK’s top venues for recording classical music. The performances opened with instrumental music using traditional Tamil instruments: Murasu, Thappai, Udukku, Changku (conch) and Kompu (horn). Many of the visitors touched or ran their hands through soil from Mullaiththeevu beach placed in a bronze bowl, and encouraged their children to do the same.

A particular hit with the audience was a musical drama featuring the distinctive Tamil Eelam song ‘Panai Maramea’ (‘Oh, Palm Tree’), which turns on a conversation between the ubiquitous tree and the Tamil people, highlighting the unity of homeland and the nation in the freedom struggle.

The event began with the raising of the Tamil Eelam flag and the lighting of traditional lamp by three TYO activists in front of Tamil Eelam flag and the portrait of late Pon Sivakumaran, the pioneer of the Tamil resistance movement in early 70s.

 

The Tamil students’ uprising in the island, originating in the late 1920s and early 30s against the Donoughmore Constitution and remained a peaceful struggle even in 1970 when the Tamil Students League entered into the scene. But, the 1972 SL Constitution inevitably compelled the Tamil youth to get into armed struggle, a transition which was symbolised by the sacrifice of Pon Sivakumaran.

Now, the Eezham struggle has gained a global significance against the genocidal state of Sri Lanka and a new transition is taking place at the age of social media and new modes of liberation, a young activist told TamilNet, also citing the role of youth groups in Tamil Nadu, a transition brought out by the sacrifice of Muthukumar.

Tamil activists Maheswaran, Senathirajah Jeyanandamoorthy, a former MP of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) from Batticaloa also participated in the ceremonial event of lighting the lamp of sacrifice.

It was followed by a traditional dance performance by TYO members, accompanied by classical music that highlighted the historical role of Tamil youth in the freedom struggle.

The performances by British Tamil youngsters and youth, who had practised for months for the event, showcased the cultural and political ties with their homeland, and saluted the history of resistance by Tamil youth against the oppression of their nation.

A musical performance by Thamizh Eezha Isaik Kuzhu (Tamil Eelam Music Group) included songs highlighting the same theme, as well as the natural beauty of the Tamil homeland.

The event was addressed by Bairavi Ratnabal, on behalf of TYO-UK, and, later, guest speakers Mr. Ravi Kumar of the British Tamils Forum (BTF) and Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy. Members of leading Tamil organisations in Britain were amongst the audience of seven hundred.

Another traditional dance performance – ‘Kaalaiyilea athi kaalaiyilea’ – by Sivakumaran Tamil school, named after late Pon Sivakumaran, was accompanied by a song urging the Tamils to be steadfast in their pursuit of freedom.

Students from the North London Tamil school performed a ‘peacock’ dance titled “Vanni Ma’n’nilea” (On Vanni soil) and later performed a drama “Emathu Paathaika’l” (‘Our path’).

The school was established in 1989 to nurture and develop Tamil language and cultural heritage in Britain. Several Tamil schools flourish in London, teaching Tamil language and fine arts.

Nine Veena artists conducted “Vee’naik kachcheari”, an instrumental performance of Tamil Eelam songs.

“Engka’l Theasaththil Idi” performed by students from the Diyaneera Academy of Dance, urged a consideration of the Tamil struggle today, and a renewed commitment to it.

The theme was echoed in a poetry rendition by TYO activist Bharathy Mahesa, and a performance by fellow activists of “villup-paaddu” – a musical performance of comic story-telling common in Tamil cultural events. The night’s performance was titled “Vizhiththidu thamizhaa”.

The evening’s set concluded with “I’laiyoar Kaalam”, a dance performance by TYO members marking the fall and rise of the struggle followed by “U’ruthi Mozhi”, an oath of commitment by the performers and the audience, and the ceremonial lowering of the Tamil Eelam flag in the fading summer light.

Whilst the performances were staged in the main hall, an exhibition in the room below showcased paintings of scenes from the homeland and displays of traditional jewellery, palm leaf inscriptions and traditional Tamil food (including Puzhukkodiyal and Chakkaraith-tha’n’ni), as well as explanations of Tamil national symbols.

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