“I studied in a Tamil medium school and completed my basic degree in Tamil medium. When I joined as an Assistant Engineer to (Late) Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, I felt embarrassed because I was not able to converse in English with the other staff who were fluent in the language. However, I picked up English and was appointed as Scientific Advisor to Kalam. It is advisable to start your education in your mother tongue; you can still achieve what you want. You have to work hard”. This was the message given to the students during the keynote address by V. Ponraj, Scientific Advisor to Abdul Kalam at the annual Tamilar Thirunal (Tamils’ Festival) held at Kinta Indian Association Hall.
M. Mathialagan, President of Thamilar Thirunal Committee Perak, said that Tamilar Thirunal is celebrated in Malaysia in conjunction with Tamil New Year which falls during mid-January to unite all Tamils regardless of their religion and caste to promote 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,” he said to the audience consisting of Hindus, Christians, Muslims and atheists.
The event started with barathanatyam, the traditional dance of Tamils. 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; Mayil Aattam is done by girls dressed as peacocks, resplendent with peacock feathers and a glittering head-dress complete with a beak; Urimi Melam, a type of drum which is widely believed to possess supernatural and sacred powers and demonstration of silambam, a form of martial arts.
Winners of the competitions held for primary and secondary school students were awarded certificates and cash.