Tamil blooms in Gothenburg

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Tamil New Year’s Day celebrations kicks off grandly

Gothenburg aka Göteborg the quadricentennial city, and the second largest city in Sweden, celebrated the Tamil New Year’s Day on a grand scale attended by more than 400 people including non-Tamils.

The function was marked with film music, skits, Carnatic music recitals by children, dance, quizzes, and a gala dinner for which the food was fetched from Saravanaa Bhavan in Stockholm.

Tamil evokes a language, culture, heritage, films, music, socio-political spectrum (Sri Lankan Tamils’ quest for autonomy), Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural among others. What unites Tamil people is predominantly the language – Tamil.

Listen to the podcast below on the formation of the Gothenburg Tamil Sangam in Sweden, and what it aims to do for integration and assimilation in to the Swedish society and Tamil community:

PODCAST on Gothenburg Tamil Sangam 

As a result of increasing number of Tamilians migrating to the city from India either for higher education or due to jobs in the IT sector, Tamilians of Indian origin started ‘Gothenburg Tamil Sangam’ but open to all the Tamil-speaking people such as the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora, Tamils of non-Tamil Nadu origin but hailing from India, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA.

Sundar Sankaralingam, chairman of Gothenburg Tamil Sangam, noted that language is the window to a culture. “We want to give the future generation of Tamils a platform to teach Tamil, to understand their culture and also to integrate with the local society and Tamil culture.”

However, to bring people from different professions and backgrounds in the city is not an easy task.

Pravin Karthick Ravichandran, general secretary of the sangam, said the biggest challenge is to bringing people together. He emphasized that the aim is to support newcomers, and assist them in one or the other way to make their stay in the city enjoyable because most of the organizers have been living here for more than 7-10 years. He said, “We know certain things…what are the problems we faced, and we do not want them to face again.”

Murali Krishna, one of the founders of the Tamil Sangam, sees the society as a cultural link between Tamils in Gothenburg with Tamil heritage and culture. He said, “It is a place very far away from India and we believe that having an organization like this can bring lot of people together.”

Angeliki Iosif is a Greek but lives in Gothenburg. She attended the function along with her boyfriend Nikos Roumpakis on the invitation of an Indian Tamil student. She reckoned Gothenburg is a cosmopolitan city and there are other cultures to explore especially the Tamil dance, food, inexperienced and unknown traditions and music. “I really want to learn about other cultures and today to see how other people celebrate their new year’s day because we are used to celebrations only 1 January.”

There are about 2000 Tamils in Sweden and 25,000 Indians. The first wave of Indians came in 1950s and 1960s as students and workers; the second in 1970s from Uganda – of Indian descent; the third in the first decade of 21st century for free education; the fourth were research scholars and the fifth continues till now who are mostly students and those skilled in IT.

Tamil New Year’s Day (Puthandu or Puthuvarusham) is the first day of year on the Tamil calendar set to the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, and the first day of the Tamil month is Chithirai. The new year’s day is celebrated on 14 April 2018.