Tamil, which has the oldest literature among living languages, will be the focus of the festival of letters coming up in Coimbatore. Beginning on June 23, the five-day event organised by the Tamil Nadu government will celebrate the glory of Tamil with special focus on Classical Tamil.
Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi wrote the theme song for which A.R. Rahman composed the music
Nearly 3,000 delegates from 50 countries will deliberate on the uniqueness and antiquity of the Tamil language, culture, art and society. This is why the festival is called the World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC).
Considered the brainchild of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who is himself a renowned Tamil litterateur, the WCTC is being held at a time when the language is witnessing exciting developments, and facing challenges too. Conscious of the growing application of information technology in Tamil and future requirements, the government is hosting the ninth Tamil Internet Conference concurrently. “The aim is to highlight, in a balanced way, the greatness of our antiquity and special features of Tamil computing,” M. Rajendran, Tamil University Vice-Chancellor and coordinator of the research forum committee for the WCTC, says.
In terms of sheer numbers of participants and papers, this meet will exceed the eight World Tamil Conferences held between 1966 and 1995. “More importantly, a comprehensive coverage of subjects has been planned this time. Topics such as the impact of Dalitism and modern existentialism in Tamil writing are going to be discussed,” Avvai Natarajan, co-chairman of the research forum committee and former Tamil University Vice-Chancellor, says.
Talking of the role played by the World Tamil Conferences held under the auspices of the International Association of Tamil Research (IATR), Sa. Kandasamy, Sahitya Akademi award winner for Tamil for 1998, recalls that subsequent to the 1968 and 1981 conferences, the International Institute of Tamil Studies and the Tamil University were established.
Similar conferences had been held for other languages of the South. After the formation of the Tamil University institutions for Telugu and Kannada were set up.
Recalling the services rendered by Thaninayakam Adigal in organising the initial conferences, Mr. Kandasamy points out that A.K. Ramanujan (1929-1993), the academician-writer, played a significant role in establishing internationally that Tamil did not just have moral or religious works but creative writing of superior quality.
Tirupur Krishnan, the Tamil writer-journalist, expresses the hope that just as what the World Tamil Conferences did, the WCTC would help promote the language further. An immediate positive impact of the Conference can be seen in the improvement of infrastructure of Coimbatore city and suburbs.
Works estimated to cost Rs. 300 crore were taken up. Among the projects is the ‘Garden of Classical Tamil' planned on the grounds of the Coimbatore Central Prison.
As in the case of WCTC, the Tamil Internet Conference will see greater participation of delegates. Poongothai Aladi Aruna, Minister for Information Technology and TIC committee organiser, says that the previous editions of the TIC had seen, on an average, 150 delegates, whereas this time there will be over 450 persons.
T.N.C. Venkatarangan, chairman of the International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil, says the papers will go beyond issues concerning platform software.
A meet of this scale and sweep is being held for the first time after the Union government announced, in October 2004, its decision to accord the status of classical language to Tamil. Considering the significance of the occasion, the authorities have planned a number of programmes.
An exhibition is organised adjacent to the CODISSIA complex. There are pavilions on the features of Tamil civilisation, culture and literature under six themes with 30 sub-divisions.
The meet will begin with the rendering of the theme song, authored by Mr. Karunanidhi. President Pratibha Patil will declare open the meet. In the evening, a cultural pageant will be organised. The parade will start from the VOC Park and end at the venue. Floats will reflect Tamil arts, culture and literature. Folk artistes will perform.
The President will declare open the meet and present the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award to Asko Parpola.
The event promises to be a historic event not only in terms of enriching intellectual acumen but also making the common man understand the richness of Tamil. - Courtesy: The Hindu -