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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Tamils - a Trans State Nation

CONTENTS OF
THIS SECTION

Last updated
16/07/07

Journey Down Memory Lane - R.Shanmugalingam
'I Remember...'  I.P.Thurairatnam
Memories are Forever -Karthigasoo Jeganathan
Once upon a Jaffna - C Kumaraparathy
n-inaivil n-inRa yaazppaaNam - நினைவில் நின்ற யாழ்ப்பாணம் C Kumaraparathy
Struggle for Tamil Eelam
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Jaffna Heritage - Traditional Buildings of Jaffna
Jaffna General Hospital Development Association
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St.Henry's College, Ilavalai
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St John's College, Jaffna
St Johns College, Jaffna OBA
St.Patrick's College, Jaffna - UK
St. John's College Class of 1985
Tamil Society - University of Peradeniya
University of Jaffna
Eastern University, Batticaloa
Eastern University - Sri Lanka
 

Eelam (Sri Lanka)
இலங்கை (சிறீ லங்கா)

- an estimated 3-4 million Tamils live in Eelam -


Journey Down Memory Lane To Reach 'tamiz Izam'

Ramalingam Shanmugalingam

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 | Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35 | Chapter 36 | Chapter 37 | Chapter 38 | Chapter 39 | Chapter 40 | Chapter 41 | Chapter 42 | Chapter 43 | Chapter 44 | Chapter 45 | Chapter 46 | Chapter 47 | Chapter 48 | Chapter 49 | Chapter 50

"Some friends have welcomed the idea of my reminiscences -  reminiscences that stir in their memory their own wonderful experiences in 'tamiz Izam.' I am simply putting my thoughts in words as they open up, without due consideration to style, grammar,and chronology. The whole idea  is to go down memory lane to the wonderful places, beautiful people, festivals, cultural events, and other soul satisfying matters we miss. My experiences may move some to nostalgia, and in others they may whet their appetite to know more about the land we hold dear." - Ramalingam Shanmugalingam


Chapter 1

'pORRi jen vAz mutalAkija poruLE', 'போற்றி என் வாழ் முதலாகிக பொருளே'  It is 4.00 a.m. and the loudspeakers on the Nallur Belfry after the Chime blurts out Piththukkuli Murugathas's resonating metallic voice, and it is time to get up, and face another day of Nallur festival. "arOkarA, nallUr kaNtanukku arOkarA."  "அரோகரா, நல்லூர் கந்தனுக்கு அரோகரா"

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 This chanting still echoes in my ears. The deity passes the 'madappaLLi' we decorate in front of the entrance to the house that came with the mother of our three children.

This house had a patio, that was used by weary worshippers, on the western boundary of Nallur Kanthaswamy temple, adjoining the 'piLLajAr' temple and Mankayarkkarasi Vidhyalayam. The house itself was built long before, but there is '1835' edged on one of the cross beams.

Probably one of the oldest dwelling houses built with coral stone, lime mortar, olive timber, etc., in Jaffna. The walls are about 42" in width and the main door cannot be opened and closed by the children. The house was a fortress, a requirement of the times. I know that we may have lost the roof, but I am sure Sinhala shells could not have damaged the structure.

The procession is led by groups of singers, 'tavil and NAtacuvaram' and some prominent citizens of Nallur, Jaffna and neighboring areas. The 'Car Festival' is the climax and the precision with which the 'AcAriyAr' steers the CAR without independent suspension, nor a differential, weighing more than four Sherman tanks decked one on top of the other and reaching that height, is something to think about.

nallur4.jpg (27007 bytes)

The ropes used to pull the CAR gives the picture of anacondas carried by a couple of thousand legitimate heirs to the right to pull the divine CAR. No new comer or outsider is allowed to touch the ropes.

The smashing of thousands of coconuts and the exposure of the snowy white kernel is a way of exposing 'tamiz' inner purity and perhaps what made Albert Einstein write in his diaries, 'nobility of the Ceylon Hindus.'

Parading of St. John's Ambulance by the ever vigilant and amiable E.P. Rasiah, and the score of Police officers in mufti, The Radio Ceylon mobile platform following the procession with commentators like Suntharalingam, Kunchithapatham, Nadaraja and a host of others perched atop and giving a word by word description of the procession. The Late Inspector Ponnuthurai sometimes in his Police uniform and at others in the customary 'vEddi and cAlvy'. and the rolling devotees with their 'arOkarA' accompanied by women doing the 'adi aLakkiRatu' and their chanting.

This diverse noise level beats the noise called music we hear sometimes today. The finale of the 26 day program is the Festival of Flowers-'pUngkAvanam', and at the end of these festivities, the winding down of the various kiosks opened only for the season and their bargain sale and the typical market place atmosphere is an experience by itself.

nallur3s.JPG (26136 bytes)

Devotees wait to go home to partake of their first and perhaps last meal for the day. This in itself is a ritual and a rich cultural and culinary experience. Man was wise enough to design these festivals at a time in the climate almanac that gives him time to get away from his daily chores in the field and yet cultivate more than sufficient produce to meet the high vegetarian demand and for export to other parts of the country where the 'jAzppAnham' fruits and vegetables are a connoisseur's delight.

They say it is the soil, may be, but I would add that it is the 'jAzppAnhattAn' toil and devotion to his vocation-'cejjum tozilE tejvam.'. That, for the farmers and the people of the land. We the nomadic, who had to take residence outside 'jAzppAnham,' who do not want to miss the festivities, with the greatest of efforts try to join the families for more or less a week, any exigencies of service mean the refusal of leave of absence and that is the reward for progress! So far it was a case of raising the temple flag. Next time let me tell you about another flag raising in the hot summer months of March to July. The 'pany marak kodijERRam.' The season of that palmyrah nectar-'panang kaLLU.'


About Ramalingam Shanmugalingam
1934 - 2004

[see also 1. US Tamil Activist Dies  ;
2. ‘ciRpi cetukkAta cintany’ – Unsculptured Thought by R.Shanmugalingam ;
3. Selected Writings - R.Shanmugalingam]

Ramalingam Kichi Yazhan Shanmugalingam was born on September 29th 1934 to Ramalingam Karthiravel and Pakiam, in Jaffna Sri Lanka. He was lovingly known as Kichi by his family and friends. Kichi was blessed with a wonderful family, his living brothers Mahendralingam, Suntharalingam, Ganeshalingam and Panchalingam. He also had a sister Thenmozhi, who passed away . One cardinal guideline Kichi believed in was if you can t do good at least do not harm others . What is harmful and what is not is a matter of judgment dictated by those particular circumstances. He illustrates with one of his stipulations to his intended and later his wife of over 43 years. If my mother and only sister let her beautiful soul return within my family as I, during my life will nurture her substitute even better than I did to her from a different place and time, had no saree to wear, I would rather buy three cotton sarees than one Kanchipuram saree for my wife. There is no physical hurt to my wife except perhaps a challenge to her ego. Her subsequent actions to outdo me with deeds to others prove that I did fair by her and others .

Kichi s childhood was wonderful with great adventures and accomplishments.
He graduated from Jaffna College and went on to receive his engineering degree from Allahabad University, India. He flourished academically, serving as a tutor for many of his classmates. He worked for many years at Collets and Massey Ferguson in Sri Lanka. In 1960, he met Susila Devi Ratnasabapathy, an accomplished Indian Classical
dancer- Bharathanatyam. He fell in love with her the minute his eyes saw her. Her beauty, demeanor and poise led to their marriage on May 15 1960.

From his early childhood, the oppression of the Tamils in Sri Lanka was the precursor of his life long struggle for the liberation of Tamil Eelam. In 1970 s he realized that he did not want to bring his children up under an oppressive government that discriminated against Tamils. So, in 1972, Kichi moved his family to Zambia, Africa, where he was the Chief Agricultural Engineer for the government of Zambia. In Zambia, he progressed and developed a close relationship with his roots. His exemplary work and integrity took him to higher positions in the government sector. The admiration and love that was bestowed on him was realized when the ex-president of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, talking about aids in Africa at UCSD, made a point to visit his friend at his home in San Diego last year. He travelled extensively all over the world for his work and he was the type of man that took his work very seriously. In 1980 he got an opportunity to move to the USA with his family. Kichi had an enormous appetite for music and was an excellent singer and loved to sing. He was an avid reader and an exceptionally a powerful writer both in Tamil and English.

When he turned 55 years old, he retired and took on a more active role to educate the world on Tamil heritage and promote pride in being a Tamil, which was his true passion in life. In the last few years, he met some of his goals, he helped develop a Tamil font language software, called Yazhan Tamil font. He also formed the World Wide Tamils Coalition which served as an umbrella group to bring together Tamils from all over the world in solidarity to promote Tamil language and culture. Kichi was also instrumental in publishing his poetic works and wrote the book Sitpi Sethukkatha Sinthanai . He was in the process of translating the book Sitpi Sethukkatha Sinthanai in English and publishing his next book Journey down the Memory Lane .

Kitchi leaves behind to treasure his memory, his wife, Susila Devi, children, Dhayalan, Sudhamathy and Sivamathy. Children-in-laws, Goulai Khoo, Thabenthiran and Sean Coffey. Grandchildren, Chaminie, Janon and Tena. Brothers, Mahendralingam, Suntharalingam, Ganeshalingam and Panchalingam. Brother-in Laws, late Thirunavakkarasu, Vivekananthan, Mahenthiran, Manoharan, Pathmanathan

Farewell to Shan - Alex Doss writes on Ramalingam Shanmugalingam's death, 8 November 2004

"...To those of you who do not know who this man is, he is a Tamil , a Scholar who has done a lot for Tamil and the Tamil cause. To those of , you who might have met him at the Cross Cultural Center, he is the one you have met. To those who were interested in learning Tamil, he, was the one who was willing to teach you. To those who were , interested in going to Sri Lanka with VISIONS and to learn Tamil, he, was the one who wanted to teach you Tamil to prepare yourself. I was, with my family today visiting the Shans. We had lunch together and , everything was fine until Mr. Shan then started to have chest pains. He asked me for his medicine and I gave it to him. When it didn't work, he told me that he needs to go to the hospital. We then called 911. His wife Mrs. Susheela cried out and told me that he was having a heart attack. I tried the best I could to revive him and to give him CPR. The paramedics then arrived and gave him CPR and used the fribulator on him. He was then taken to the ER. We all went to the Scripps Medical Emergency Room in La Jolla. Around 5:30 pm today (7 November 2004), he passed away. I will never forget this man for the rest of my life. He was not only my guru, but like a second father to me. When his daughter arrived at the ER from L.A. she had told me that just today she and her husband were planning to have a ceremony for her father's book which he had just released in India earlier last month. He has treated everybody with dignity and respect. Even when he could not afford to host people, he made sure that they were treated like kings and queens. He was also the first person to teach me how to write in Tamil. Before he had the attack which was roughly around 3:30 pm he  was showing my brothers some of his poems. I remember the last one he  showed was about his wife and his father. His death will never be forgotten, and his works shall live on for ever. He will live always in our hearts...."

continued

 

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