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Weekend Tamil Heritage Exhibition in London

by our London Correspondent

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the ending of the Civil War in Sri Lanka, a new acronym ToL, Tamils of Lanka, has entered the diaspora vocabulary over the weekend.

The “Tamils of Lanka- a Timeless Heritage” Exhibition, a collective and community project organised by volunteers of Tamil Information Centre, TIC, London, was spearheaded mainly by young Tamils and students at UK Universities in collaboration with academics. It was held at the spacious Tolworth Recreation Centre. near Surbiton, Surrey on 18/19 May 2019 on two floors and was well attended with parents bring their families along, together with many interested British residents also being curious.

The Exhibition, the first of its kind, was a conglomerate of Ancient History and Heritage, Political Resistance, Consequences of War, Mullivaikkal, and Art, Culture and Architecture of Tamils through the ages, with prominence given to the not forgotten memories of the war. Resilience, restitution and recovery of lost pride featured prominently, with both sadness of a lost generation and resolute vision for a newer generation.

One of the highlights of the event was the lecture given by Prof. Peter Schalk on “Buddhism among the Tamils “on 18 May,2019. He outlined inscriptions in Prakrit written in Brahmi by Tamil speakers dating from 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD, called the early “Anuratapuram” period by historians with traces of socially engaged Buddhism among the Tamils of that time.

Special Guests were Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition together with Labour, Liberal and other politicians, with the Mayor of Kingston and many Councillors participating.

This exhibition was the brainchild of the Late Mr.V.Varadakumar, Executive Director TIC who passed away in April 2019 before seeing the fruits of his labour. He was a firm believer in uniting the various warring Tamil parties and splinter groups of migrants both refugees and second-generation Tamils in UK and abroad. He believed in enticing the future generation of young diaspora Tamils and by his example spread values of resilience.

Dr. Rachel Seoighe. Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Kent ended the last session of the Exhibition speakers with a philosophical note on conflict memory.

The recurring themes of this two day event was an incumbent duty to still count the dead, which many feel no body knows the final death toll, but also the need to defend the validity of progress the Tamils have made in their new homes around the world after the episode of war and the destruction of lives, culture and tradition, intentionally or otherwise, coupled with clear signs of hope for a future of reconciliation back home.

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