We have two homes

‘Those who classify themselves as Christians can be divided into 2 broad groups: those who have chosen to allow the Bible to be their final authority and those who have chosen to allow men to be their final authority’.

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(November 22, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I refer to the email message from you regarding Remembrance day 2010. I did remember our fallen heroes on 11 November – the Common International Remembrance Day.

I appreciate that you have used the Karthigai Flower (Gloriosa Lily) as the flower to represent Tamil war heroes. I note the following from a Young Canadian Tamil – “As a Canadian, I now have two flowers I can wear - the poppy flower and the Lily flower.”

The above expression indicates strongly that we have the opportunity to have two homes. A young Melbourne lawyer specializing in Family Law, said - in response to a Tamil lamenting that children of a divorced couple would suffer – “look at it this way – they have two homes now”. They do. In the case of all children successfully managed by divorced couples – they do have two homes. Likewise, those of us who had governments that had to ‘divorce’ – as happened between the Sinhalese majority government and Tamil majority government in Sri Lanka. But within the Tamil Community also there are divisions – with the leaders of the various groups forming a multilateral government which often does not seem to have common purpose, but seems to depend excessively on majority vote.

Diversity is healthy when the Common Base is strong. To the extent we disagree – we are opposites attracting each other. To my simple mind, that is how the Earth revolves. But at the center – the two sides need to be firmly connected for there to be cyclical movement representing absolute / independent power. Nature says to us that there are two equal sides to anything physical and when the two are combined they form wholesome facts. Applying this to our ethnic situation – we need to produce the half Equal to the production of our opposition. This cannot be done with Tamils forming less than One half of the issue and it is less than half when we are divided.

Let’s take for example your choice of 27 November as Remembrance Day. To me, the choice of 27 November as Remembrance day for Tamils, limits the power that is generated from such remembrance, to LTTE supporters only – given that it is the birthday of the LTTE leader. As you would appreciate there are Tamil soldiers from many groups as well as individuals who have sacrificed their earned benefits to become Independent. Sacrificing benefits for a common cause is of greater value than dying on duty. To many poorer members of militant groups – fighting is a job. They are the parallels of majority soldiers on the government side. It’s the belief of the strong ones that made the Tamil side a strong force to reckon with.

Those sacrifices were made over the years often through everyday life. When we Remember – we honor all those sacrifices also – even though the form of Remembrance is mostly through deaths in the battlefield.

Majority LTTE supporters followed their leader. Yesterday, I received an email from a fellow Tamil – Mr. Mal Spencer of Melbourne, with an article by Mr. Harvey Perera, which included the following statement ‘Those who classify themselves as Christians can be divided into 2 broad groups: those who have chosen to allow the Bible to be their final authority and those who have chosen to allow men to be their final authority’. Majority LTTE supporters are of the latter category. But those who choose the law (parallel of the Bible) as their final authority would be independent of any human leader outside themselves. They lead themselves. To the likes of Gandhi – the seeking was/is beyond Human Laws. They are driven by Truth and Truth alone. They are the most powerful contributors to Independence / Freedom – even though they are often with least official status. The reason for this is that the status itself comes from the very system that they are fighting against. Hence when those who have earned status on merit basis do not appear to be of that earned status – there has been unjust discrimination which often is unlawful discrimination in a global environment.

I analyze whether the LTTE Administration allocated status appropriately? According to Tamil Youth Organization Canada “Karthigai Poo” was designated as the Tamileelam National flower by the Tamileelam administration during the Great Heroes Remembrance Week in November 2003.”

In 2003, I worked with the LTTE Administration in Vanni under a UNDP agreement to improve their Public Administration. My work did not get past the local group (who did appreciate me very much) and as I do here in Australia, I did submit my reports both to the UNDP as well as the LTTE Administration – including some to the Leader – as recommended by Colonel Karuna whom I met during the course of my work. But there was no response at all from the LTTE Administration. Additionally, I was never intimated about the Karthigai Poo, even though I myself had sacrificed much for self governance here in Australia and I am a Tamil.

But Tamil Karthikeyan (Lord Muruga due to His birth in November / Karthigai), sure did recognize my work. A few years after working in Vanni – I happened to join the Carlingford Sai Center – here in New South Wales – at the invitation of Mrs. Vijaya Amirthalingam. Gradually, I started making the garlands for the Shrine on Sundays. I bought the flowers from Flemington markets usually on Saturday mornings. One day I saw a nice looking flower and I bought it because I was attracted to it. I knew I could not make garlands with it but I was specially attracted to that flower. I bought a bunch – for $6. There were 6 flowers in the bunch. The following morning, along with the garlands I took these flowers also to the Carlingford Shrine. There, Mrs. Sivarajah, mother of LTTE activist Yathavan spontaneously said ‘That is the Boys’ flower’. Mrs. Sivarajah went on to explain to me about the Botany of the flower. I was happy that someone was happy and continued to pray. After the prayer session – Mrs. Ganga Sundaram came over to us and said ‘That is Murugan’s flower. It has six petals. In India it usually blooms in November’. That made me very happy because I am so very devoted to Lord Muruga. Many in our group wondered as to how come I had bought it here in Sydney?

After Group Prayers at Carlingford Shrine, my husband and I went to see a nephew and took two of the Karthigai flowers with us – one for us and one for the young couple. Our nephew said that he had purchased the plastic version at Tamil Heroes day celebrations but that he had never seen the real one before that. Our nephew has lived most of his life in Vaddukoddai. While we were there, there was a call from a friend of theirs – in relation to Dr, Gowripalan of the University of NSW wanting to contact me regarding a financial proposal to help needy Tamils. That friend said that Dr.Gowripalan had been very appreciative of my stand against unjust discrimination at the University of NSW. That was the first time a Tamil of independent standing showed appreciation for my work and sacrifices towards Eliminating Racial Discrimination at higher levels of Australian Public Administration. I felt a connection between the Karthigai Flower and all this but did not know how to translate it.

Now years later, I admired the flower when your email came, because of my faith in Lord Muruga. Then when I looked at the message – I was not so sure whether the Flower was being used appropriately. Some Tamils have given negative feedback. One was strongly worded as follows: “The 27th cannot be a day of mourning for all Tamils, because it does not include the more than thousand - literally thousand - Tamils killed by the LTTE. Neither does it acknowledge the grave crime committed by the Tamils on their own community by turning its own children into soldiers - In doing so, I think, the Tamil community failed in the very fundamental moral duty that that every community has towards its children”

I responded as follows “to me - Nature just happens and we need to 'learn' from it. ……. I have worked closely with the Tamil Tigers and continue to associate closely with their
current supporters. Many in the areas that I work are/were supporters. Hence in those environments I have to not separate myself from them - but become part of them and remove the negatives. I believe I have enough positives to more than make up for the negatives and move forwards. The points I have raised re the significance of 27th - is the essence of what
those Tamils would have said. If we did have an alternate day of Community mourning - that would have been the better way - given that 27th is VP birthday. As I have said - to me it is about Tamils who are seeking independence. Within the community, in terms of feelings - I express on behalf of those who would be influenced by strong leaders promising Independence. I seek to protect them from separation pain and loss and no more. They / we
need to preserve their contribution - active as well as passive - towards self-governance.”

Having written that, I decided yesterday, to write to you. Then this morning I was distracted with other house work and changed my mind – saying it was not important. Then I saw at the following address this lovely Karthigai Flower with the following excerpt from my response to Ms Pearl Thevanayagam: (Link)

‘People are more important than money and Institutional values are more important than approval of individuals. Money, People and Ownership make up the total value of our work. This is my personal discovery which helps me to keep going – despite disturbances and attempts to deviate us from the core purpose.’

When I saw the Karthigai Flower – I felt mesmerized – as if I was looking at Nallur Murugan Himself. I knew then that I had to write to you. Donald Gnanakone also published my response through Tamil Daily News and while I was writing this letter to you, Donald sent me the following response from Ms Thevanayam. (External Link):

“There is something called truth which eludes us when we are blinded by nationalism and patriotism. True, we have been cheated by many Tamil leaders who overtly championed Tamil causes but covertly had their own selfish interests. We have been fooled for nigh on six decades. It is now time to shed our inferiority complex and align with our majority Sinhalese who with all their Buddhist credentials are still an accommodating lot. It would do the Tamil minority good if only we can reconcile that we are Sri Lankans first and Tamils second. India will never come to our rescue nor will the West.”

Whilst I do not agree with the logic of the above – I do identify with Ms Thevanayagam’s feelings in wanting to end the fighting. To me is it about diffusing the conflict by elevating the issue to the higher and wider global level – towards continuity of our efforts in seeking Independence. One way is to elevate our work to higher intellectual level and diffuse our borders is to become global.Towards this I urge you to please Remember on 11 November – at least from next year onwards. Lord Muruga signifying Karthigai Flower is the Lord of Tamils. His silent message would lead us to Independence including from our own desires for hasty local victories.

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