Feature Article

No need for Eezham Tamils to ‘namō namō’ Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 December 2019, 21:10 GMT]
Eezham Tamils ended their emotional attachment to the 1951 ‘namō namō tāyē’ (‘sri laṅkā tāyē’) when their political move for powersharing in what they aspired as the Federal Republic of Ceylon was thoroughly denounced by the Sinhala nation in 1972. The dream for an inclusive and federal Ceylon/Ilaṅkai (Lanka) or Eezham, as Tamils had identified the island for centuries, lost its meaning with the constitutionalization of the ‘Sri’ prefix. The term meant ‘auspiciousness’, but in practice implied the establishment of the ‘holy’ island as chosen by the Buddha to be exclusively destined for the Sinhala people with the mission to protect Buddhism. When it gained constitutional precedent, the Tamil attachment to it ended. After decades of genocidal hegemony and without a political solution to their national question, Eezham Tamils have no moral or legal connection to the anthem.

In 1972, the Sinhalese unilaterally proclaimed ‘Republic of Sri Lanka’ in the place of the legal name, Ceylon, without the democratic mandate of the Tamils.

The British Queen was no longer the repository of the sovereignty of Tamils in the island, and the 1972 SL Constitution abolished appeals to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

The SL Constitution is illegal and has no democratic mandate of Eezham Tamils. The SL State has further denied Tamils to express their political aspiration by imposing the 6th Amendment in 1983.

As far as the Eezham Tamils are concerned, any move to make them sing the ‘national’ anthem of the occupying unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka, would be nothing else than rendering them accepting their subordinate status.

Even that too should not be allowed to be done in the Tamil language, is the thinking prevailing in the Sinhala South.

The revisionist hierarchy of the Tamil National Alliance, spoiled by the folly of the outside geopolitical establishments to be waylaid as if there was a fresh opportunity through the paradigm of ‘transitional justice’ in the island after 2009, is also unable to defend any Tamil attachment to the ‘Sri Lankan’ national anthem.

Tamils were being “excluded from national life in many ways,” was the response of Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

The ITAK parliamentarian and President’s Counsel has been denouncing Eezham Tamils’ Right of Self-Determination and their distinct historical sovereignty through succumbing to the notion of “united, undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka” along with R. Sampanthan after 2009.

“Singing the anthem alone won’t make everything all right in this country,” Mr Sumanthiran was quoted as saying by Sunday Times.

He was commenting on the recent decision by the Rajapaksa government, which wants to do away with the Tamil version of the ‘Sri Lankan’ national anthem at the so-called independence day celebrations on 04 February.

“If the rulers of the country don’t want us to sing the national anthem, we have no objection to not singing,” Sumanthiran has said.

“For, if they tell us not to sing it in Tamil, they are telling us not to sing it at all. How can we sing it in Sinhala? We can’t sing it in a language we don’t understand.”

Ananda Samarakoon, who composed the lyrics of the SL anthem, was a student of the Indian Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Samarakoon’s song became the national anthem in 1951, with a parallel translation in Tamil made by Muthu-thamizh-pulavar Mu Nallathambi.

Samarakoon was popularising the term ‘Sri Lanka’ in 1940. It was an innovation of 20th-century Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists who resented the colonial usage, Ceylon.

Many of today’s generation think ‘Sri Lanka’ is an old name for the island. It is not so as far as the Sanskrit ‘Sri’ part is concerned. Early Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists had a fervour for Sanskrit (Sri was not spelt or written in the Pali / Prakrit / Sinhala form, Siri).

Although ‘Sri Lanka’ became the official name of the country, the official name remains as Ilangkai in Tamil. Perhaps, Rajapaksa brothers would also do away with it.

The Tamil poet, Mu Nallathambi, also chose to use the term Eezham in the Tamil version of the SL anthem: ஈழ சிரோமணி வாழ்வுறு பூமணி.

Even if an equitable political solution within in a confederal arrangement is agreed by the Sinhalese and a situation conducive to reconsider the Tamil version of an island-wide anthem arises, the genocidal identity ‘Sri Lanka’ would have to be replaced with Tamil equivalent for the geographical identity of the island, Ilangkai (ilaṅkai) or Eezham (īḻam).

Eezham Tamils, as a nation, would never come to terms with “namō namō Sri Lanka”.

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External Links:
Sunday Times: Mourn Tamils hurt by anthem decision



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