Category Archives: Indian religions

Chettinad’s Palaces in View

T. S. Subramanium,in Frontline, 7 December 2018, with photos by Velankanni Raj …. where the title runs “The Palaces of Chettinad”

The palatial decorated homes of Chettiars in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu are symbols of a colonial-era architectural heritage marked by opulence. The stately mansions of Nattukottai Chettiars of the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu are a statement of the affluence the mercantile community enjoyed at the height of its prosperity during the British Raj. The palatial houses, with the built-up area measuring anywhere between 20,000 square feet (1,858 sq. metres) and 70,000 sq. ft (6,503 sq. m), were mostly built in the period between the early 1800s and the 1940s. The Chettiars had set up flourishing trading and business enterprises in Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (including Java and Sumatra), Vietnam, Mauritius and the Philippines.

       At the Chettinad palace, a large patio with “thinnais”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, cultural transmission, heritage, Hinduism, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world affairs

The Suntharalingam Family’s Journey: Sri Lanka to Australia

Matthew Westwood, in The Weekend Australian Review5-6 January 2019, where the title is  “Counting and Cracking: a family’s journey” … with some snaps and a partial bibliography added by The Editor, Thuppahi

In the complicated and at times bitterly divided history of Sri Lanka in the 20th century, one man’s story may be emblematic of the nation’s changing fortunes. C. Suntharalingam was born in 1895 into a Tamil family, the son of a poor farmer. The boy was a whiz at maths. Sent to a boarding school in Jaffna, he went on to study at the universities of London and Oxford.

Chellappah Suntharalingam

Belvoir’s Eamon Flack  and playwright S. Shakthidaran –Pic Hollie adams

Like other educated Tamils he sought “trousered employment” in the colonial public service. He was called to the bar to practise law and later entered politics, serving a term as minister for trade and commerce in what was then the colonial Ceylonese government. He built a beautiful house in the heart of Colombo on a street with views down to the ocean, and held court on the porch where he discussed politics and affairs of the day. Continue reading


Filed under art & allure bewitching, Australian culture, australian media, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, economic processes, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, LTTE, modernity & modernization, nationalism, performance, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, world events & processes

Pathways towards the Transformation of South Asia

SinhaRaja Tammita-Delgoda, in Eurasia Review, 7 September 2017, where the title is Transforming South Asia: A Key To The Future ”

Commonalities are what we have in common. In most parts of South Asia the inheritance is common, shared origins, shared languages, shared religions and shared cultures. Yet in each case this common inheritance has diverged and taken its own unique path. This divergence has occurred at different times, in Sri Lanka it has taken place over millennia, in Bhutan and Nepal over several centuries, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh it has happened during the 20th century. It is a history of common origins taking different shapes and forms with very different interests.

As South Asians we have a shared inheritance but do we have common interests? Do these common interests coincide with our national interests? Do our national interests converge? Where, when and at what cost? Only once we have achieved it can we seek transformation.

 Hambantota Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British colonialism, cultural transmission, democratic measures, economic processes, education, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions

Tamil Tigers: Dead Body Politics and Sacrificial Devotion

Michael Roberts, reproducing here an article  entitled “Tamil Tigers:  Sacrificial symbolism and ‘dead body politics’,” that was first presented in  Anthropology Today, June 2008,  vol.  24/3: 22-23. The re-working of this article was seen to by Ms Nadeeka Paththuwaarachchi of Battaramulla.

Scholars and journalists often mistakenly treat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, or Tamil Tigers) as a ‘secular organization’ at a time when stereotypes of the Islamic ‘terrorist’ or ‘Hindu fundamentalist’ dominate popular thinking about political extremism. Political scientists devote space to the Tamil Tigers in their global surveys of what they term ‘suicide terrorism’.[1] Recently, Roland Buerk of the BBC presented a similar view: ‘They are not religious and believe that there is nothing after death. Their fanaticism is born of indoctrination from childhood.[2]

Tiger fighters relax in camp but retain their kuppi with cyanide in chainsaround neck-Pic by Shyam Tekwani c.1989 whne embedded among the LTTE

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Al Qaeda, atrocities, authoritarian regimes, cultural transmission, Eelam, heritage, Hinduism, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Indian traditions, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, Saivism, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Sri Lankan scoiety, suicide bombing, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, war reportage, world events & processes

Sidhu applauds fellow-cricketer-politician Imran Khan

The Editor, Express Tribune, 27 November 2018, “Navjot Singh Sidhu says Imran Khan’s name will be written in the first page of history books”

Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s name will be written on the first page of history books for opening Kartarpur border for Sikh pilgrims in India. Speaking in Express News programme “Takrar” on Tuesday, the visiting dignitary said the Pakistani premier will grow stronger by facing even tougher tests in the future. “I know him [PM Imran] for a long time … he is a brave, honest and empathetic man which made him join the tough field of politics,” he remarked.

Indian Minister and former Test cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu in the “Takrar” program of Express News

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under communal relations, cricket for amity, cultural transmission, Indian religions, life stories, performance, politIcal discourse, tolerance, world events & processes

Romila Thapar lauds Iravatham Mahadevan in his Moment of Passing

Romila Thapar, in The Hindu, 27 November 2019, where the title is “Remembering Iravatham Mahadevan”

“He knew more about Indian epigraphy and the linguistic aspects of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan than some specialists”

I heard the news on Monday morning of the passing of Iravatham Mahadevan and was deeply saddened. Mahadevan, or Jani as his friends called him, was a special person of extraordinary talent and a much-respected scholar despite his having worked in administration for most of his professional life. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under architects & architecture, art & allure bewitching, education, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian religions, Indian traditions, life stories, unusual people

Secularism on the Wane in South Asia

P K Balachandran, in Financial Times, 27 October 2018 -where the title reads “Decline of Secularism in South Asia”

South Asia’s multi-religious countries, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, started off with a noble wish to be ‘secular’ and keep religion out of the business of the State. Hindu-majority India, under the leadership of the avowedly secular Jawaharlal Nehru, explicitly stated that it would be secular.


Jinnah–Getty Images DS Senanaayke

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under authoritarian regimes, Buddhism, economic processes, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Indian religions, Islamic fundamentalism, modernity & modernization, parliamentary elections, politIcal discourse, power politics, press freedom & censorship, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, world events & processes, zealotry