Gentle Oil Lamps or Rough burning tires for Jaffna? - Sri Lanka Guardian


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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gentle Oil Lamps or Rough burning tires for Jaffna?

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( December 5, 2013, Jaffna, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Tamilnet article - ‘Students protest against Colombo's discriminatory closure of Jaffna University forwarded to me by a leading member of the Tamil Diaspora.

As per this article ‘The Sri Lankan State through its administration kept the universities across the island closed while the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) took place in Colombo. Except the University of Jaffna, other universities were opened before 02 December. The reason for Colombo instructing its authorities to keep the Jaffna University closed till Monday was to make sure that the students were away from the University premises during the Heroes Day, the university management in Jaffna said.’

Last year I wrote on this issue under the heading ‘Third Eye of Jaffna’ ( ‘Maaveerar Day is Remembrance day of brave soldiers. It is NOT a Remembrance day of intellectual leaders. Who celebrates the death of the Hon Appapillai Amirthalingam whose humble beginnings started at Pannagam in Vattukottai? The Hon Appapillai Amirthalingam qualified as an Advocate and was killed by the LTTE. Hence LTTE and all its supporters lost the moral authority to use intellectual forums and institutions through which to remember their heroes. In addition, University of Jaffna’s presiding deity is Lord Shiva the parent and not Lord Muruga the son who defeated the arrogant Soorapathman in battle’

This year, I was able to celebrate Karthigai Theepam with the folks in Northern Sri Lanka, as per the local tradition. As per the Tamilnet article ‘The students also attempted to burn tires outside the main entrance to the University. But, the SL police commandos deployed there blocked the students.’

The folks in Thunaivi also burnt tires to celebrate Karthigai Theepam. Some even climbed up Palmyra trees and placed the torches at the top. This did cause me safety concerns and I requested them to take care. I thought also that these folks could not afford the proper oil lamps and the oil torches for Karthigai Theepam. I learnt that this tire burning has been tradition with them over the years. But when I grew up in Jaffna town – we lit small oil lamps in celebrating the birth of Muruga.

Burning of tires by students of the University of Jaffna – is an identification with these Thunaivi folks – most of whom are not likely to go through University education in this generation. My work is towards University education and oil lamps & torches for the next generation.

Taken on project basis – by attempting to light tires on a day they claim to consider to be holy – these University students are confirming that they have moved away from the intellectual path. Hence, be it to celebrate Karthigai Theepam or their own war-heroes, these students who resorted to burning tires are confirming their disconnection with our intellectual ancestors from whom we inherited the softly glowing Third Eye – Intellectual lamp. These students abused also the sanctity of Karthigai Theepam last year and confirm that the measures taken by the University authorities were appropriate as per their inner knowledge. It took just one year for the students to confirm this by failing to include their celebrations on Karthigai Theepam day rather than on their heroes day. As per the natural behavior of students – many of them enjoyed the time off – and some even went away from Jaffna as a group. They are also University of Jaffna.