Feature Article

Colombo's erasing of “Eezham” from Tamil philosophical poet’s statue evokes strong reactions

[TamilNet, Saturday, 24 June 2017, 23:21 GMT]
SL Military Intelligence officers, who came from Colombo, were harassing the Divisional Secretary of Karaichchi division in Ki'linochchi, demanding the latter to erase the term "Eezham" from the base of the statue of Tamil Poet and Philosopher Thiruva'l'luvar. The statue was raised inside the premises of Karaichchi DS office on 17 June. The organisation, coordinating the raising of the statue in the district, the Tamil Sangam in Ki'linochchi, was asked by the DS to erase the term, leaving behind the other term “Ilangkai”. The Sinhlala military-instructed removal of the main Tamil term Eezham has evoked strong reactions from all the sections of Eezham Tamils in the island. The initiative-taker of the move, Mara'vanpulavu K. Satchithananthan, reminded the readers that even the Sinhala term ‘Hela’ was originating from the same root and called the removal of the word an act of cowardice.

From academics to grassroots activists in Ki'linochchi have conveyed their displeasure to both the Divisional Secretary and to the chairman of Ki'linochchi Tamil Sangam, news sources in Ki'linochchi said.

Veteran Political Analyst C.A. Jothilingam, who is based in Jaffna, also said the move to delete the word from the base of the statute was a wrong one.

“Eezham is a Tamil term for the entire island, which has been in use since time immemorial. It is wrong to delete the cultural, geographical and the inclusive name,” Mr Jothilingam said.

Va'l'luvar statue at Karaichchi
The statue photographed before the removal of the term Eezham

Tamils in the island and those who live outside should take particular attention on asserting their identity as Eezham Tamils and not as ‘Sri Lankans’, an exclusivist identity imposed on Tamils by Sinhala-Only 1972 Constitution, he further said.

The term Eezham was marked at the base of the statue as the usage was in a literary sense together with other places in the globe. Thirukku'ral is also known as the universal scripture.

Va'l'luvar statue at Karaichchi
Thiruva'l'luvar statue is being raised at 16 different places in the island at the initiative of Ma'
Thiruva'l'luvar statue is being raised at 16 different places in the island at the initiative of Ma'ravan-pulavu K. Satchithananthan. The statues are donated by Chennai-based VGP Group. SL State Minister of Education V. S. Radhakrishnan has also been patronizing the move.
Mr K. Satchithananthan, a senior Ilangkai Thamizh Arasuk Kadchi (ITAK) executive committee member and former UN consultant, who is now the chief organizer of ‘Siva Chenai’ in Jaffna, condemned the removal of the term Eezham from the base of the statue in Ki'linochchi.

Those who deleted Eezham from the base of Va'l'luvar statue were acting in stupidity and bewilderment without realizing the broader and deeper meanings of the Tamil term, Satchithananthan told TamilNet on Thursday when he was contacted over the phone.

He was citing the usage of the term in the classic Changkam diction. A Changkam poet was named Eezhaththup-poothan-theavanaar. There are references such as Eezhaththu-naakanaar the Changkam classics. He was also referring to the phrase “Eezhaththu u'navum kaazhakaththu aakkaamum” from Paddinappaali.

Even the Sinhala term Hela is from the same root. Those who want to erase Eezham, should also be erasing not only the references in the Changkam classics of Tamil language, but also the term Hela from the Sinhala language usage. They can't even have the names such as ‘Sinhala Hela Urumaya’, Satchithananthan commented.

Last year, the sponsor of the statues, Chennai-based VGP Group of Companies Chief V. G. Santhosam from Tamil Nadu, went on record in Indian media stating that it was a move to create ‘greater understanding between India and Sri Lanka’.

SL State Minister of Education V. S. Radhakrishnan has also been patronizing the move to erect 16 Thiruva'l'luvar statues in the island.

Ma’ravanpulavu Satchithanantham initiated the project and it has taken almost a year to launch the first set of 8 statues. The statues were being declared open this month in Puththa'lam, Mannaar, Mu'l'liya-va'lai, Ki'linochchi, Chaavakachcheari, Pu'liyangku'lam, Batticaloa and in Colombo.

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