The annual Tamilar Thirunal (Tamils’ Festival), celebrated in Malaysia in conjunction with Tamil New Year for more than fifty years, was celebrated in Mahamariamman Temple and some eight hundred people attended the function. M. Mathialagan, President of Thamilar Thirunal Committee Perak, said that Thamilar Thirunal is celebrated to unite all Tamils regardless of their religion and caste to promote the Tamil language and culture. He added that it is sad to note that parents are not giving Tamil names to their children. If the trend goes on we would lose our identity. The audience consisted of Hindus, Christians, Muslims and atheists.
The event started with the traditional way of lighting the kuthu vilakku (lamp) followed by barathanatyam, a Tamil classical dance. There was a display of Tamil folk dances which are rarely performed on stage. The dances included Karagattam, a dance involving the balancing of clay or metal pots on the dancers heads; Kavadi Aattam, a dance form based on kavadi taken during Thaipusam; Thattakkaal Aattam, dance on stilts; Kummi, dance performed by girls by clapping their hands to keep timing; Mayil Aattam is done by girls dressed as peacocks, resplendent with peacock feathers and a glittering head-dress complete with a beak; Oyilattam, oyil means beauty and is performed by girls; Poikkal Kuthirai Aattam or False Horse Dance, where the dancer bears the dummy figure of a horse’s body on her hips; and finally, performance of Urimi Melam, a form of drum which is widely believed to possess supernatural and sacred powers.
Three outstanding members of the community who excelled in their profession were honoured. The highlight of the night was a literary talk given by Professor Dr M. Sivachandran, a Tamil scholar from India.