Tamil Heritage Month
January marks the beginning of Tamil Heritage Month in Canada, a time to reflect on the rich history, culture, resiliency, and strength of Tamil communities across the country.
In a statement released on behalf of the Government of Canada, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, the Honorable Ahmed Hussein commended contributions of Tamil people in the world of business, politics, the arts and other fields. He stated that Canada is the proud home of one of the largest Tamil diasporas in the world, and Canadians of Tamil heritage have been instrumental in making it the country it is today.
Tamilians have a proud history of achievement. The majestic influence of the historic dynasties of Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandya have made a distinct impact on Tamil culture, the arts, literature and is also very visible in the beautiful temple architecture of Southern India.
Tamil people have migrated from South India since centuries. Tamil language is spoken in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and among various Tamil diaspora communities across the world. Tamil is a classical language, the oldest language still in daily use today.
Their rich language and traditions and history continue to make a lasting impression in our communities. Prominent Tamil people continue to make their mark all around the world as well as here in Canada. Think of Sunder Pichai CEO of Google, Vice President of USA Kamala Harris (whose mother is of Tamil origin), former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam, former CEO of Pepsico Indra Nooyi, world famous Indian musician A R Rehman or Canada’s Defense Minister the honorable Anita Anand (whose father is from Tamil Nadu).
January is an important month for the Tamil community also because ‘Thai Pongal’, the Tamil harvest festival, takes place between January 14 and 17 this year. The festival marks the end of winter solstice, and the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards when the sun enters the Capricorn, also called as Uttarayana. The festival is named after the ceremonial “Pongal”, which means “to boil, overflow” and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk.
The Thamil Cultural Society of British Columbia (TCSBC), will be celebrating the event with fanfare on January 21st in Vancouver. This a great opportunity for the community to get together and celebrate the Tamil heritage.
Tamilians in Vancouver
Mr Ganesh, Manager of South Indian restaurant Saravanaa Bhavan shares information about how he brings Tamil culture and traditions to his restaurant.
“Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the Tamil community. It is a celebration to thank the sun, mother nature and the various farm animals that help to contribute to a bountiful harvest. celebrated over four days, Pongal also marks the beginning of the Tamil month called Thai, which is considered an auspicious month.
In Saravanaa Bhavan, we not only celebrate Pongal of Tamil Nadu, we also celebrate Sankaranthi of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and other states and nations such as Nepal. Pongal marks joy and brings along positivity. May this festival of harvest season be one that brings along with it all that’s best and everything you deserve. Wishing everyone a Happy Pongal.”
Ramya Vinod is a women’s health physiotherapist working at back and body wellness center Surrey. She is proud of her Tamil heritage and shares her thoughts about keeping her traditions alive in this city.
“I am very passionate about my profession and whatever I do with full involvement and passion. I landed in Canada 11 years ago. Back then, as a new immigrant I had various struggles to adapt to this new country. So, I decided to help people who might be in the same struggle as me. So along with another friend I started a what’sapp group for ladies to just help each other with information, to promote their business, job opportunities, finding daycare and much more. Slowly the group grew bigger, and we have around 2000 ladies now, supporting and helping each other. We have also organized events on Diwali, Pongal, Tamil new year to bring back our hometown memories. People who miss their near and dear ones during these important festival season are given the opportunity to feel at home with authentic traditional food, attire and decorations.”
Vishnu Vardhan, an HR professional lives and works in Vancouver. He recently made the news for completing 75 hikes in the year 2022. He shared some information about his achievements. “I hiked mostly in the Fraser Valley, Sea to Sky, Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope, Canadian Rockies, Kananaskis, Mt Reiner Park, Northern Cascades, and Banff. Each and every mountain is unique in its own way. And I haven’t done any scary scrambling or high-altitude climbing as my intention is not just an adrenaline rush but to appreciate the tranquility of the creator and creation.”
Striking a philosophical note, Vishnu shares he will be hiking during Pongal as well, “…Best thing to be with nature…To me, hiking is a user manual to live life! The body will say No, the Mind will say No, and people around you will say No, but despite all those pushbacks still with a cautious approach you got to march forward..
Wishing all Tamil people, a very happy Pongal!
May this rich heritage keep marching forward and keep shining!