தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION
Last updated
30/06/07

European Union & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation - Denmark
Tranquebar: The Danish Connection "If Pondicherry, in India, is associated with the French, and Goa is associated with the Portuguese, then Tranquebar is connected with which part of the globe? Persons knowledgeable about history would immediately recognize that it is the Danes..."

Tranquebar Mission’s Contribution to Printing & Publishing - Dr. Lalitha Jayaraman

Shakti in Denmark  - Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger, 2003

The Indo-Danish Cultural Encounter with Special Reference to Print in the Eighteenth Century
- Project by Dr. A. R. Venkatachalapathy, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai "The Tamil language is not only the first Indian language but also the first non-European language to see print. While the first Tamil books were printed on the West Coast by the Portuguese the real story of print in India with significant social and cultural impact begins with the setting up of the printing press in Tranquebar by the Lutheran missionaries in the first decade of the eighteenth century. By the first century of printing at Tranquebar the number of Tamil books printed neared three hundred – a figure much ahead of other prominent Indian languages such as Persian and Bengali. In terms of content and quality, the first printed Tamil grammars and dictionaries issued from the Danish press in Tranquebar constitute landmarks in the modern European understanding of Eastern cultures. But the most phenomenal achievement of Tranquebar was the first full translation of the Bible in any Indian language. There were two prominent figures in this fascinating cross-cultural project: Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg and J. Fabricius. Until the centres of printing moved further north on the East coast towards Pondicherry, Madras and Serampore, Tranquebar truly dominated the printing scene in eighteenth century."
Tranquebar: a Danish town in India
Tharangambadi
Diasporic Minorities and their Media in Denmark

Alaikal

Tamil Eelam - Denmark
Tamil Media - Denmark - in Danish & Tamil
Media World Asia
Danish Refugee Council
Danish Center for Human Rights  
 

Tamils - a Trans State Nation

Denmark - டென்மார்க்
- an estimated 7000 Tamils live in Denmark, mostly asylum seekers-


Denmark: Welcoming Many
©
Urmila Goel, www.urmila.de 2002 [also in PDF]



Church of Zion in Tranquebar, in Nagapattinam District in Tamil Nadu dates back to 1701 and was founded by the Danes. It is the oldest Protestant church in India.

1713 the Tamil boy Timotheus is presented at the court in Copenhagen. He is brought from the Danish colony Tranquebar by missionaries of the “Dänisch-Hallesche Mission”, the first protestant mission in Southern India from 1706 to 1837. At their school he was taught not only the Christian religion but also the Danish language. Now he is brought to Europe as a show piece.

Seeing Timotheus the widow of the king is so much impressed, that she asks for a Christian Tamil boy for herself, whom she gets. Timotheus gets to know the Tamils already living in Copenhagen. When his relationship to a Tamil girl – a former slave of a Danish priest in Tranquebar – becomes public in 1714, prejudices about the sexual permissiveness of Tamils are strengthened.

Nonetheless Timotheus begins his studies to become a missionary. These are interrupted when the king allows a journey to Halle. After his return Timotheus is selected to teach two Danish candidates for the mission in Portuguese and Tamil. Soon, however, another training is sought for Timotheus, he begins an apprenticeship as a bookbinder, which he completes in 1717. After marrying the Tamil Sahra he returns to India, where he works for the mission. (Liebau 1996, 9-18)

Today - long after Denmark has ceased to be a colonial power - the link to Tranquebar seems to have gone as well. Only few immigrants of Indian origin live in the country, the considerable number of Tamils are refugees from Sri Lanka, the largest South Asian group in Denmark are the Pakistanis. The latter seem to have come as guest workers in the 1960s and 70s (Steen 1993, 103). Ali (1982, 84-85) gives an account of the Pakistanis in Denmark at the beginning of the 1980s.

According to this report they come mainly from the Punjab, the majority are men, who work in the production and service sectors of the economy. An Imam of a mosque is a Pakistani, there are some Urdu magazines and already 1982 a convention of Pakistanis in Denmark has been hold. A few years later in 1985 the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Denmark invites to an international Hindu Conference in Copenhagen with the objective of bringing the European Hindu community together.

While the majority of immigrants of Indian or Pakistani origin have in 1998 the Danish nationality, most Tamils who came later as refugees are legally still Sri Lankans. Their entry is the second influx of refugees after the 4000 to 5000 Asians coming from East Africa at the beginning of the 1970s . In fact Denmark, which has had a history of assisting refugees (Steen 1993, 87) , received an unusual large number of Tamils for its size (81).

When the first Tamils applied for asylum in Denmark in 1984 they could not refer to an ethnic support group living there already, they came to a culturally totally alien country (81). The support came from the Danish state. Although in 1986 Denmark tightened its Aliens Act (87), most Tamils have been recognised as de facto refugees, which gives them a legally secure status, allows for family reunion (81) and provides them access to the same social services as the Danes (106).

The refugees pass through a process beginning with the pre-asylum phase from a few months to several years in refugee camps, where they are not entitled to work and their children cannot attend the Danish schooling system, continuing with the integration phase, when their asylum has been granted and they are - for in average17 months - in the care of the Danish Refugee Council, and finally finding their welfare in the responsibility of the municipality. (94-95)

Confronted with the bad reputation of other refugees and the guestworkers of the 60s and 70s the Tamils make attempts to differentiate themselves from these (103). Their polite and reserved behaviour makes them the ideal refugee for the Danes, makes them the favoured group of the officials (102-103). Nonetheless their life is not easy. Besides being faced by patronising and missionising instincts by the Danes, who are guided by cultural stereotypes and use their assymetrical power position (100), they increasingly have problems finding employment (97). The Danish system makes them clients rather then acting subjects (106).

After the first pioneers had found their way to Denmark chain migration set in. Newcomers – mainly young bachelors – are related to earlier refugees, are their friends or school-mates from the home village. Virtually nobody leaves Sri Lanka for Denmark without contacts and telephone numbers of Tamils living there already. Once arrived they often become closely attached to their “contact”- families. (166) The social life takes place primarily in the Tamil community. Only few have relationships with Danish women and even less legalise these. (176) There is no feeling of belonging to the place they live in, which hinders also the establishment of their own institutions (186).

In 1985 the need for a Hindu temple is first formulated (183). The wish is however not strong enough to put it to realisation (185). The religious rites are performed by a travelling Brahmin (183). The first Tamil death in Denmark brings total confusion about the rituals, a book of verses is sent for in Germany, but there are not the right persons present to perform the service (189). Nonetheless Tamils from all over Denmark attend the burial as they were called by the leader of the LTTE in Denmark. Thus it became a political demonstration of the refugees in exile. (190-191) Well organised Tamil militant groups in fact play an important role in the life of the Tamil community in Denmark. Several groups compete with each other (129). The pressure on the refugees to support them financially is so high, that many have complained to the Danish Refugee Council and have requested its help against this (136).

With the emergence of the internet also the Tamil community uses this medium. For some time the English www.tamil.dk gives a forum to Tamil issues. But not only the Tamils can be found in the virtual world. There are, for example, some appearances of second generation Indians. A student with roots in Punjab refers to these on his homepage and on Dr. Bombay’s homepage one learns about his Danish-Indian parents.


Shakti in Denmark  - Marianne Qvortrup Fibiger (Aarhus University, Denmark) - Abstract of Paper presented at the 3rd Congress of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR), 8.-10. May 2003, Bergen (Norway) -

Lalitha Sripalan, dressed in red, performs puja at her temple in Brande, Denmark. Picture: M Q. Fibiger
Shakti in Denmark
- a focal point for many Tamils in Diaspora

" In Denmark we have two consecrated Hindu temples: one dedicated to Vinayakar or the elephant-headed Ganesha and the other to the goddess Abirami, where an autodidact laywoman, Lalitha Sripalan works as priest, shakti-medium and consequently as healer. This makes her well known among Tamils in Diaspora in general, who consult her either by phone, mail or by visiting the temple.  This paper will describe the history of Lalitha Sripalan, showing how the Diaspora situation has given her options, that she presumably would not have accomplished had she been in Sri Lanka. The paper will discuss her local but also international role among Tamils, and by using her as an example it will show how the Tamil Hindu tradition has adapted to the Danish environment. As a crucial example I will use shakti and its manifestations through Lalitha Sripalan following the red-letter days in the Danish calendar to a certain extent, however taking a cyclical understanding of time into account."

 
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