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
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Last updated
15/07/07

A Brief History of Tamils in Mauritius -  M.Sangalee

The Influence of the Merchant Class on the Tamil Community - - Sadisivam J. Reddi

An estimated 10% of the Mauritian population of 1.2 million are Tamils.

On 18 November 1998, the Central Bank of Mauritius was compelled to withdraw its new family of banknotes after thousands of Tamils took to the street protesting that their language appeared last on the notes. Mauritian banknotes have traditionally carried the denominations written in English, Tamil and Hindi scripts -- in that order. Last month, the central bank issued a new series of notes -- in English, Hindi and Tamil. The Tamil community in Mauritius was outraged. Thousands took to the streets protesting that their community had been slighted. "It's a great victory for all Tamil militants,'' Tamil Council leader Devarajen Kanaksabee said. "The controversial family of banknotes was a deliberate affront at the history of this country and more especially at the Tamil culture.''

Related Offsite Links

Tamil Chambers of Commerce and Professionals, Mauritius

The Languages of Mauritius
The Murukan cult in Mauritius
Cavadee Festival in Mauritius
Ethnologue Database: Mauritius
Tamil - a Language of India in Mauritius Encyclopedia
Mauritius
 

Mauritius - மொரிஷியஸ்
- an estimated 100,000 Tamils live in Mauritius -


Contributed 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 Tamilians.

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.

 

 

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