Thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil students are studying in the universities and academies of the U.K. and other western countries. These students belong to the second or third generations of Tamils living in these countries. They are going to be our future leaders, politicians and professionals. Many of these students join their Tamil student societies and celebrate their cultural evenings in their universities. While they celebrate their traditional festivities do they know their rich cultural heritage with which they are linked and left behind in their motherland?
How many of them know that the famous Jaffna Library with over 97000 volumes of books, along with culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts were destroyed by arson and shelling? The well-known Daily News in its editorial called it an act of goons, sponsored by the then government. Do they know about the Standardisation which set different university admission threshold marks for different communities? During the 30-year war and army occupation, Tamil cultural events were suppressed and drama manuscripts were lost forever with the displacement of people. Several temples and churches were destroyed by shelling and are now being rebuilt with funds from the Tamil diaspora. Plantations including paddy fields, banana, coconut, Palmyra trees and vegetation were heavily destroyed by the shelling. The wells were polluted with oil and chemical weapons used during the war and this affected drinking water.
Looking at the bright side, there are more Bharatha Naatya Arangetrams performed in the UK, Canada and Australia etc when compared to the same events taking place in North East Sri Lanka. This is largely due to the tireless efforts and encouragement of the older generation ie. the parents but after the children enter universities, this culture is not followed through. This is mainly due to the children being away from home and out of sight of the parents, together with a clash of culture. The clash of culture plays an important part, as the children are easily distracted with the mix of various other entertainment leading to less or no time for Tamil community spirit or to keep the Tamil cause alive. This may be due to the teasing attitude they feel towards our culture and not being brave/bold enough to overcome it. Children should be encouraged to watch the Tamil TV channels, as this forms the basic foundation to the Tamil culture. There are more Tamil TV channels and radio channels operating all over the world.
Equally important is to keep the Tamil cause alive by the second generation and third generation and so forth until a safe and secure homeland is found for Eelam Tamils. The second and the next generations must be informed and educated by the current generation as to why the Tamil Diaspora exist around the world. The large Tamil Diaspora around the world exist due to the fact that the most current generation were driven out of their homeland - North East of Sri Lanka - to Western countries. The second and the next generations must NOT be allowed to forget this fact and must continue to carry the message and campaign until a safe and secure homeland is found by self-determination.
With the current serious situation of Sri Lanka hoodwinking the international community and the Tamils of North East by dragging the issue of homeland for Tamils with an intent and hope that the Tamil demand will fade away and die after the death of current generation. It is the second and next generation of Tamils' responsibility to keep the spirit alive and ensure our homeland is NOT lost forever. It must be noted that the disenfranchised and dispersed Jewish community kept their spirit of returning to their homeland for over 2000 years before they were united again in their ancestral land.
Therefore, it's a golden opportunity for the Tamil students not only to contact each other and build their cherished culture at their respective study institution but also openly and proudly discuss and devise plans to keep our hope of keeping the homeland alive.
Tamil University students should be seen to accompany their parents to venues where social and cultural events are conducted in Tamil and also learn about the ordeals their kin and kith faced during the last 50 years. It is also important the students visit their motherland whenever possible, to give them the best opportunity to see/feel for themselves the Tamil culture and how their beloved land that their forefathers lived in has been slowly but steadily destroyed and assimilated as Sinhala land. This will hopefully help to cement their interest and help them to be proud of their Tamil culture and one day not too distant away, the entire Diaspora will be able to visit their motherland without any fear or persecution.
TWG Editorial Board - London, UK
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Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 30 July 2018