by K S Sivakumaran
I think it is pertinent to include my personal connection with the Eastern Province before I write in brief about the Festival. Please bear with me as it helps to understand the literary activities in that part of the world.
What is known in Sinhala as Thirukunamalae and Thiru Koana Malai in Tamil and Trincomalee in English anglicized by the British) is the natural harbour town in the north of the longest Eastern Province.
The administrative unit of the Eastern Provincial Council functions at Uvar Malai (Orr’s Hill), a few miles away from the historical and religious important holy city, Thiru Koana Malai.
Although the Tamils were the majority population there for some time back, now there are more Sinhala people now in the city.
Although it is slowly being developed as an urban modern city, the capital of the Eastern Province remains Madda Kalappu, which is a Municipality and has fast developed into an urban metropolis. Mada Kalappuwa in Sinhala is known in English by a stupid name coned by the Dutch called Batticaloa.
Most of the Tamil people living in Thiru Koana Malai are closer to people in Yaalpaanam in the North than people in the southern part of the province which is Madda Kalappu. This is partly due to difficulties in transportation between the cities of ‘Trinco’ and ‘Batti’ as they call in English.
This columnist claims to be a universal man than belonging exclusively to a particular region of the country, although he is proud to be called a Lankan.
His grand parents might have come from the north of the country, but he was born to a father born in Thiru Koana Malai and a mother born in Maddakalppu. His partner in life Pushpa was born to a father from Koapaai in the north and a mother born in Thiru Koana Malai. She was herself born in ‘Trinco’.
Although I am too is apolitical animal, I do not subscribe to any political ideas in the country leave alone Tamilian political ideologies. At least three parliamentarians from ‘Trinco’ were related to either my father or my wife. They were the first MP from the electorate the late S.Sivapalan and the late N R Rajavarothayam. The present MP, R Sampanthan is related to my late father and my wife.
In the Eastern Provincial Council, under the Ministry of Education, Cultural Activities, Land, Land Development, Transport, there is a Department of Cultural Affairs. This Department is headed by an amiable Director by name D W D Welikala and a Secretary by name N A A Pushpakumara who handles the Educational Sector of the Eastern Province.
There is also a very knowledgeable and intellectual Deputy Secretary called M T A Nizam. There is a Cultural officer by name K Anbalagan. The consultant for the literary activities there is the former employee now retired Nanthini Xavier, who is a famous writer in Tamil and a recipient of several awards for his latest novel.
The one-day Seminar was held on October 06, 2012 at Vivekananda College Hall, at Uvar Malai, attended by both boys and girls who are A Level students and a few teachers both men and women.
The theme of the seminar was’Contemporary Registers in Lankan Tamil Literary Trends’ (Ilankai Thamil Sel Neryil Sama Kaalp Pathivukal)
The speakers were received by the students and the Principal of the school and other dignitaries who were invited to light the traditional oil lamp.
There were two sessions. The first one was held under the T T Saravanamuthup Pillai Arangu. (He was one of the pioneer literary figures hailing from ‘Trinco’. Prof S Yogarasa of the Eastern University presided. T Ramesh spoke on Short Story, Memon Kavi on Poetry, K Kuneswaran (Thuvarakan) on Novels and K S Sivakumaran on Non-Fiction writing. Questions were asked and replied by the speakers. Cultural Officer F Bazeer thanked everybody. After lunch in the second session under Umar Neina Pulavar Arangu, Professor Emeritus S Maunaguru presided.
The session was interesting because of that Sinhala literature which was figured prominently. Hemachandra Pathirana spoke on Sinhala translations of Tamil Literature. He spoke in chaste Tamil. Dickwela Kamaal in turn spoke on Tamil translations of Sinhala literature. M S M Niyas spoke on Arab Literature in Tamil and M Sathakaran on cooperative efforts by Sinhala and Tamil Drama and Theatre people. After a Question and Answer session cultural Officer V Koneswaran thanked the speakers.
An effort had been to build a bridge among the different communities via literature. This is commendable. I thank personally Nanthini Xavier for mixing myself with young participants and students.