- an estimated 100,000 Tamils live in Mauritius
by a Tamil from Mauritius, February 2000 -
Mauritian Tamils are around 10 %
of the total population of 1.2 million.
Tamils in Mauritius believe that
Tamil is a religion, Muruga is the Tamil god and Cavadee is a Tamil festival. For us
Hindus are a people from the North of India and Tamils are from the South of India.Tamils in Mauritius mainly come from Tamil Nadu.
Tamil festivals in Mauritius are the Cavadee, Tamizh Poottaandou (New Year) in April, Teemeedhi, and Thai Pongal.
Constitutionally, Tamils are categorised
as Hindus. But
most Tamils are for Tamil as a separate indentity. They have been
struggling for this for almost 30 years. This movement is being lead by the Mauritius
Tamil Council under the leadership of Devarajen Kanakasabee.
Last year we succeeded in preventing the falsification of history by protesting against the changing of Tamil rank on bank notes.
It should be noted that although the Islamic,Chinese,
African people have their
cultural centres, the Tamil request for a "Tamil Cultural Centre" was not accepted. The
view was expressed that to do so would divide the Hindu community. It is
reported that India is against the propagation of Tamil as a separate culture - they say
that it is Indian culture.
Regarding languages, it should be
noted that only 20% percent of Tamils speak the language. We have a very bad exposure to
Tamil. Some teachers do hold evening classes without charge. But recruitment of
Tamil teachers is very low. Of a total of 200 primary schools, only 100 teach Tamil and
the situation is worse in secondary schools. Since 1983 there has always been a Tamil as
the Minister of Education. Unfortunately Tamil literacy has fallen from 60% to 20%. The
Ministers have been helping more in the propagation of koils in order to consolidate the
Hindu religion. Regarding television, of a total of 3 channels of 24 hours per day, we
only have a total of 10 hours per week. Television is government owned.
Since 1727, Tamils have
constructed almost 125 koils. In earlier times, prayers were being done in Tamil.
After the arrival of Brahmin priests from India, most prayers were done in Sanskrit.
However, more recently, after the arrival of a Brahmin priest from Tamil Eelam,
thiruppugazh and thevarams were taught in Tamil and archagar courses in both Tamil and
Sanskrit were conducted by him.
On 21st January 2000, on the
auspicious day of Thaipoosum Cavadee which is a public holiday in Mauritius, the Mauritian
police conducted an operation against a fugitive of the name of Dharmarajen Sabapathee
also known as Rajen. He was killed in suspicious circumstances. Tamils in Mauritius were
upset that such an operation was carried out on Cavadee day, which is very significant
religious day for Mauritian Tamils. A Truth Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of
Rama Valayden, an eminent lawyer and D. Kanaksabee as the secretary, in order to find the
true cause of the killing. Rajen's funeral attracted almost 50,000 people mostly
Following refusal from the police
for organising a public meeting, the Truth Commitee conducted a huge prayer
"caroomadee" attended by almost 8,000. Rajen's death has awakened the
consciousness of the Tamils and they are creating a Tamil Eelam Support Commitee under the
coordination of Thaygaren Ramaswamy.