Tamil festival preserves ancient culture

Outstanding Tamil Australians can be nominated for the annual Maaruthi award until August 10.

2014 Kamban Vizha Festival organisers Jeiram Jegathesan and Maitherejee Sangarathasan. Picture: Gene Ramirez

2014 Kamban Vizha Festival organisers Jeiram Jegathesan and Maitherejee Sangarathasan. Picture: Gene Ramirez

The award will be presented during the 2014 Tamil literary festival, Kamban Vizha, on October 18 and 19.

Previous years’ winners have included cardiologist Dr Vairamuthu Manomohan and Sisu Nagendram, an author and former actor who helped communities in Sri Lanka affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Festival founder Jeiram Jegathesan, 40, of Westmead, also the founder of the Kamban Kazhagam Australia organisation, said the aim of the award and event was to promote and advance Tamil culture in Australia and help preserve the Tamil language, one of the world’s oldest still spoken.

The two-day festival will include literary forums, debates, mock trials and speeches from international Tamil scholars based on the Tamil epic Kamba Ramayanan. The festival is named in honour of the ancient Tamil poet Kamban, who penned ‘‘the way of the hero’’ more than 1,000 years ago.

Through the ages and through the natural disasters, still - we have this book. - Jeiram Jegathesan

‘‘Through the ages and through the natural disasters, still - we have this book,’’ Mr Jegathesan said.

He said inspiration to launch the Australian festival in 2012 stemmed from similar events in Sri Lanka like the Kamban Kazhagam festival, which Mr Jegathesan experienced before his migration to Australia.

‘‘Back home in Nallur, in the northern part of Sri Lanka, temple festivals and literary festivals were the entertainment for us during the civil war.

2014 Kamban Vizha Festival organisers Jeriam Jegathesan and Maitherejee Sangarathasan. Picture: Gene Ramirez

2014 Kamban Vizha Festival organisers Jeriam Jegathesan and Maitherejee Sangarathasan. Picture: Gene Ramirez

‘‘There wasn’t any electricity there, there wasn’t any other sort of entertainment, like watching movies. So these festivals were at a peak, thousands of people used to go to the Kamban Kazhagam. It kept us growing and educated.’’

Mr Jegathesan invited everyone to attend, particularly young Tamils keen to connect with their culture.

‘‘Get inspired to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and sisters. That will be the key to take it to generations to come.’’

Nominate: tamilaustralian.com.au/maruthi/

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