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Sault Tamil community recently rang in the new year (4 photos)

The Tamil tradition is rich and ancient

Happy New Year from the city’s Tamil community.

It recently celebrated the big day which they call Tamil Puthandu.

The colourful and tasty gathering that attracted a good number of people from the community that currently boasts about 90 Sault residents.

“In the last few years, Tamil people started more businesses. Sault Ste. Marie has already been so welcoming and friendly to the Tamil Community and newcomers,” said Giridharan Venkatapathy in an email.

Venkatapathy and fellow Algoma University international student Navesh Kanna organized the new year program which was held on April 16 at The Tech Complex.

A SooToday story in 2019 by David Helwig said the city’s first Tamil family is believed to have arrived here as early as the 1950s.

Venkatapathy, who is from India and has been in Sault Ste. Marie for two and a half years, is in his final year of computer science at Algoma University. He also works as a part-time mobile application developer at Health and Safety Professional Inc.

He explained that just like January is the first month of the Gregorian calendar, Chittirai is the first month of the Tamil calendar and April 14 was the first day of this month. 

“Tamil New Year represents the end of the old year, and the leaving behind of all the problems that might have marred the year before in the hopes that this coming year is your best year yet,” he said.

Out with the old, in with the new is a universal new year sentiment, but the Tamil celebration featured some unique customs.

“We drew Kollam,” said Venkatapathy. 

Kollam is a geometric line drawing composed of straight lines, curves, and loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots. Kolams are usually drawn in coarse rice flour.

 “This is meant to invite ants, birds and other small creatures to eat, thus welcoming other beings into one’s home. It is a sign meant to invite living creatures into your life, in the hopes that Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth, will follow,” he said.

“The final element of the Tamil new year was a large feast among friends and family. The feast is organized with vegetarian dishes, which incorporate a variety of flavors to signify the different periods in life,” said Venkatapathy. 

The Tamil tradition is rich and ancient. The language, which is spoken in India, Sri Lanka and a number of other nations, is over 5,000 years old.

According to the 2021 census there are about 157,000 Tamil speaking people in Ontario.

Venkatapathy says he misses family and friends and last weekend’s celebration helped make everyone feel more at home.

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Frank Rupnik

About the Author: Frank Rupnik

Frank Rupnik is Community Editor of SooToday. Frank is a veteran writer and editor who has worked at daily newspapers across Ontario for more than 30 years
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