A Concerned Reader
The extent of misinformation and blind faith that exists among those who hear, read and think only in Tamil has been highlighted by the recent news from the Sevugaraya Ayyanar temple in South Poigainallur village near Nagapattinam in South India. Apparently, Prabhakaran is raised to the level of a Guardian Deity, with the Pro-LTTE Periyar Dravida Kazhagam acting as the prime mover of this deification. Apparently, the Tamil Nadu police had moved rapidly and removed the statues. However, we can well ask what would happen when Jayalalitha recovers her full powers.
Similarly what can happen if and when the Northern Province in Sri Lanka is granted a full 13A+ constitution? There have surely been some attempts to reignite the maaveera celebrations (of suicide killers) on 27th November, as was done during the time of the LTTE. The LTTE had cemeteries typical of Christian countries (often with empty graves).*** The statues to LTTE “hero-figures” like Thileepan, (a person who was effectively converted into a human sacrifice in front of the Nallur temple) and other LTTE monuments are also missed by those who are still dreaming of the “invincible LTTE”. In Europe there are no cemeteries to the slain Nazi fighters or worriers. An intense program of de-Nazification was carried out after the fall of Hitler, while in Sri Lanka the old practice of pandering to separatist demands are mistakenly championed in the name of “reconciliation”. The very people who remained silent or rejoiced openly when a whole host of Tamil leaders and intellectuals ranging from Amirthalingam to Kadirgamar were assassinated have [thereafter] sided with the LTTE and acted as the LTTE mouthpiece. They are now the champions of human rights, reconciliation and good governance. Surely, reconciliation must commence with a condemnation of those events, as well as at least an apology from those who sided with the LTTE. They could express mitigating circumstance such as the mortal threat from the LTTE. However, no such sentiments have been expressed. Instead, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province has accused every government since 1948 of genocide.
Given that Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam came before Soulbury and accused the colonial government in Ceylon of discriminating against the Tamils, Mr. Wigneswaran could have included the British rulers of the time as those who began “the genocide of the Tamil people” in Sri Lanka! Of course, if the UNHRC-inquiry is to be done in affair manner, then those political leaders who colluded with the assassins of Amirthalingam, Kadirgamar and others have to be indicted as well. The Sinhala reading public as well as the Urbanized southerners have always been oblivious of what is going on in the North, or in Tamil Nadu, because they do not know Tamil. They were even fooled by the name “The Federal Party” while the true name of the challenger was “The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi”, viz., the Lanka Tamil Sovereignty party.** Some pictures of the Kovil statues dedicated to Prabhakaran as reported from a Tamil newspaper are presented for the consideration of your readers, as this should be food for thought for every one.
ADDENDUM from Michael Roberts as Editor
*** This is a secular reading. It is preferable to comprehend such practices in the spirit of a Tamil cultural form rooted in Saivism and/or Vaishnavism. The ‘graves’ are nadukal (also written as natukal), or “planted stones,” and thus repositories of sacred power. Thus, each dead māvīrar is a seed that will regenerate [and also inspire]. Thus it is essential for readers to read and absorb the works of such scholars as Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Diane Mines, Christiana Natali, Isabelle Nabokov, David Shulman and M. Tanaka listed below. Note also David Mosse’s researches (1994) among Christian Tamils in rural Tamilnadu – comprehended within the context of the whole-hearted commitment of many Sri Lankan Catholic clergy towards the Tiger leadership of the local Tamil cause.
** While this translation does capture the thrust of the Tamil phrasing, note that the architects translated it into English as the “Federal Freedom Party of the Tamil-speaking People of Ceylon.”
Chandrakanthan, A. J. V. 2000. “Eelam Tamil Nationalism: An Inside View.” Pp. 157– 175 in Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: Its Origins and Development in the 19th and20th Centuries, ed. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson. London: Hurst.
Harman, William 2011. “Embracing the Martyred Dead: The Tuyilam Illam as Sacred Shrines for the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers.” Paper presented at the conference of the American Academy of Religion at San Francisco, November.
Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar 2005. “And Heroes Die: Poetry of the Tamil LiberationMovement in Northern Sri Lanka.” South Asia 28, no. 1: 112–153.
Hudson, D. Dennis 1990. “Violent and Fanatical Devotion among the Nāyanārs: A Study in the Periya Purānam of Ce¯kkila¯r.” Pp. 373–404 in Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees, ed. Alf Hiltebeitel. Delhi: Manohar.
Mosse, David 1994. “Catholic Saints and the Hindu Village Pantheon in Rural TamilNadu, India.” Man (n.s.) 29, no. 2: 301–332.
Nabokov, Isabelle 2000. Religion against the Self: An Ethnography of Tamil Rituals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nagarajan, Vijaya R. 2007. “Threshold Designs, Forehead Dots, and Menstruation Rituals: Exploring Time and Space in Tamil Kolams.” Pp. 85–105 in Women’s Lives, Women’s Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, ed. Tracy Pintchman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Natali, Cristiana 2008. “Building Cemeteries, Constructing Identities: Funerary Practices and Nationalist Discourse among the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.” Contemporary South Asia 16, no. 3: 287–301.
Obeyesekere, Gananath 1978. “The Fire-Walkers of Kataragama: The Rise of Bhakti Religiosity in Buddhist Sri Lanka.” Journal of Asian Studies 37, no. 3: 457–476.
Pfaffenberger, Bryan 1979. “The Kataragama Pilgrimage: Hindu-Buddhist Interaction and Its Significance in Sri Lanka’s Polyethnic Social System.” Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 2: 253–270.
Roberts, Michael 2007b. “Suicide Missions as Witnessing: Expansions, Contrasts.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 30, no. 10: 857–887.
Roberts, Michael. 2008. “Tamil Tigers: Sacrificial Symbolism and ‘Dead Body Politics.’” Anthropology Today 24, no. 3: 22–23.
Roberts, Michael 2010. “Killing Rajiv Gandhi: Dhanu’s Sacrificial Metamorphosis in Dath?” South Asian History and Culture 1, no. 1: 25–41.
Roberts, Michael 2012. “Velupillai Pirapaharan: VEERA MARANAM.” Thuppahi’s Blog, 26 November. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/velupillai-pirapaharan-veera-maranam.
Roberts, Michael 2014 “The Induction Oath of Tamil Tiger Fighters at their Passing-Out Ceremony.” 23 June 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/the-induction-oath-of-tamil-tiger-fighters-at-their-passing-out-ceremony/
Schalk, Peter 2003. “Beyond Hindu Festivals: The Celebration of Great Heroes’ Day by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Europe.” Pp. 391–411 in Tempel und Tamilien in zweiter Heimat, ed. Martin Baumann, Brigitte Luchesi, and Annette Wilke. Wurzburg: Ergon Verlag.
Shulman, David D. 1980. Tamil Temple Myths: Sacrifice and Divine Marriage in the South Indian Saiva Tradition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Tanaka, Masakazu. 1991. Patrons, Devotees and Goddesses: Ritual and Power among the Tamil Fishermen of Sri Lanka. Kyoto: Institute Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.
Trawick, Margaret. 2007. Enemy Lines: Warfare, Childhood, and Play in Batticaloa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Vamadeva, Chandraleka 1995. The Concept of Vannanpu “Violent Love” in Tamil Saivism, with Special Reference to the Periyapuranam. Uppsala: Uppsala University Religious Studies.
van der Veer, Peter. 1994. Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Verdery, Katherine 1999. The Political Lives of Dead Bodies. New York: Colombia University Press.