Veteran Eezham Tamil educationalist passes away in Seychelles

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 October 2012, 06:12 GMT]
Mr V. Sivasupramaniam, teacher, educational administrator, trade unionist and social worker, passed away in Seychelles on Wednesday, at the age of 81. His funeral takes place on Friday. Mr. Sivasupramaniam taught at Jaffna Hindu College between 1953 and 1972. Besides his reputation as an eminent, committed and inspiring teacher, he was also a leading trade unionist, long associated with the Northern Province Teachers Association that was the predominant teachers union of the region at that time. Later, the newly independent Seychelles government was benefitted by his services in developing educational infrastructure and institutions there. Serving Seychelles for nearly quarter a century, Mr. Sivasupramaniam was also a key person in building a cultural centre, a temple, for the South Asian Hindu community there.

Mr. V. Sivasupramaniam (1931 - 2012)
Mr. V. Sivasupramaniam (1931 - 2012)
Mr and Mrs Sivasupramaniam were planning to wind up their long stay in the Seychelles, but providence decided his demise there, in the land of his high-watermark achievements.

Studied under the Jaffna Youth Congress generation of teachers, and was inclined to socialist ideology, he was an example of the old generation of committed educationalists who served humanity wherever they went.

Born at Aiyanaar Koayiladi in Jaffna in 1931, Mr Sivasupramaniam studied at Jaffna Hindu College in the 1940s. After graduating from the University of Ceylon, he was teaching Civics and Politics as well as English at the same college. He was also a leading figure in directing the Scouts movement of the college.

After 1972, he was principal at various schools, including A’laveddi Arunodaya College. He also served in Nigeria for sometime before going to Seychelles.

In 2010, on his 80th birth year, he brought out an inspiring book "Souvenir 80 - My Educational Memories," in which he remembered 218 educationalists of his times in the island.

The temple at Victoria in Seychelles [Photo courtesy- Panorama/Google Earth]

A note received from Maravanpulavu K. Sachthananthan on the life and contributions of Mr. V. Sivasupramaniam and his family in the Seychelles:

I was resident in Seychelles as UN/FAO Consultant during 1984 and 1985, as part of the project for the development of 9 countries bordering the South West Indian Ocean.

During the same period, Mr. Sivasupramaniam and Mr Ragunatha Mudaliar [he was Secretary of Jaffna Saiva Paripaalana Sabai in the 1970s] were on educational assignments in Nigeria, former in the north and the latter in the south.

When I met senior officials of the Ministry of Education, I mentioned to them about the potential of these two gentlemen in supporting the educational welfare of Seychelles. The officials suggested that they come personally to apply for jobs, and both came to Seychelles.

Mr. Sivasupramanian accepted the terms of the Seychelles government and joined its educational service to train high school students in social sciences. At that time Seychelles had a system of education by which the students were interns at school / training centres where the trainers had a tough time in coaching them.

Mr Ragunatha Mudaliar joined a year or two later.

On 1st May 1984, I presided over a meeting of interested devotees to form an association to build a temple in Seychelles and inaugurated the Seychelles Hindu Koil Sangam. We had many cultural programmes and fund raising efforts.

During Jan 1985, when Sivasupramaniam joined the education service, and started residing in Seychelles, the Sangam reaped all the benefits of his experiences in running societies. Seychelles Tamils had little experience in managing societies because of their background. Those few who knew were hesitant to educate the Seychelles Tamils in managing the affairs of temple-oriented societies.

Sivasupramaniam became the backbone of the society in terms of its administrative matters. Mrs Sarojini Sivasupramaniam was an asset in supporting Saiva Tamil devotional affairs. When Mr. Sitsabesan, their son, joined them few years later, he went further in running a weekend Tamil school, his wife in training Bharathanatyam students. The cultural landscape of Seychelles had serious inputs from the Tamil community of Seychelles because of Sivasupramaniams.

On another front, he worked with me, and others, in promoting the construction of the temple. When I left in Dec. 1985 the Sangam owned a plot of land to build the temple. I had negotiated with the bank for a loan, identified the land for purchase and out-manoeuvred the detractors among the Tamils who were on a spoiling mission.

I used my influence with the members of the government to smoothen their stand on the need for a cultural centre. My argument was that the Tamil community, one of the original settlers of Seychelles, couldn’t be left for cultural feeding from India. I said that not only the out flow of scarce dollars but also the erosion of Seychelles nationalism due to the divided loyalties would be against the interest of the nation.

The one of the two whom I talked is now the President of Seychelles. Both the Ministers at that time agreed with me. In fact, one of them a lady, asked if I could help in the construction of an electric crematorium for Seychelles. She had the personal wish to be cremated after her death, she told me.

I left Seychelles in Dec. 1985. Mr Sivasupramaniam worked with administrative and devotional fervour to have the temple built. During one of his holiday visits to India, he sought the help of Mr Namasivayam of the Thiruketheeswaram Restoration Society and met Mr. Ganapathi Sthapathy at Maamallapuram. My father and myself accompanied Mr Namasivayam and Mr Sivasupramaniam to Maamaalpuram. Mr Ganapthay Sthapathy went to Seychelles to design the temple.

In 1992 the kumbabishekam (consecration) ceremony was held and the Tamils of Seychelles chose Mr. Sivasupramaniam to be their representative in administering the kumbabishekam rituals. He was neither a voting member nor a holder of any position in the Sangam (as he was not a citizen of Seychelles). Now the temple, located in the city centre of Victoria, the capital, has a magnificent Dravidian style Gopuram at its entrance.

I attended the kumbabishekam ceremony at the invitation of well-wishers, who (mistakenly) thought that I was the architect who changed the cultural landscape of Seychelles to the advantage of one of its original settlers, the Tamils.

Mr. Sivasupramaniam and Mrs Sarojinidevi took from where I left, to selflessly serve the Seychelles Tamil community. The entire Tamil community took him to be their cultural leader, an unelected position he held for all the 27 years of his stay in Seychelles. He made it his second home.

Seychelles TV and Radio carry Tamil programs after an effort made during the Navarathiri of 1984 when I was there. Sivasupramaniams pushed these further. Of course there were other contributors as well. Thai Pongal, Thai Poosam and Depavali are partial holidays now as declared by the government.

Sivasupramanaiam retired from the educational service. Mrs Sarojini by that time had started a small-scale industry. That facilitated the Tamil Community to continue to have the services of both in the temple affairs.

Hindu Temple in Seychelles

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