Monday, April 13, 2015

Thoughts on the Tamil New Year Day

As we said in the old country, "ஒரே கல்லில் இரண்டு மாங்காய்" Or, if you prefer the English equivalent of the idiom, "two birds with one stone."

What two, you ask?  This is poetry month, and the 14th is Tamil New Year.

So, here is a classic from quite a few years ago.  The lyrics are by the poet Bharatidasan,

I wish somebody has translated this wonderful poem into English.  This poem is a sincere and touching homage to the language, Tamil.  And, of course, set to delightful music by the old masterful team of Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.  Ah, they don't make like 'em anymore!

Tamil is one of the oldest living languages of the world--if not the oldest--with a vast body of literature.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the immense richness in which I grew up, but failed to systematically study.

But, of course, the old Tamil is even more difficult to understand than Shakespeare's English can be to a teenager of today.  We needed experts to interpret that old Tamil to us, but the teachers we had in school fell far short of conveying the beauty and lush gold in the historical past.  Come to think of it, those teachers murdered the language.

So, I learnt a completely dead language of Sanskrit instead!

And I wonder if all that is why even now I don't have an aptitude for languages?

The song in the video below is a poem by Manonmaniam Sundaranaar Pillai.  It later became the official state song of Tamil Nadu.

As always, once a state adopts something, then, well, it dies. The quickest way to kill anything cultural and traditional is to have the government interfere with it.  America's founders were brilliant in working this insight into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and making sure to restrict the role of the government; but then, I am digressing, as always ...

I am willing to bet that most kids in Tamil Nadu now will not be able to recite the poem in full, leave alone explaining what the poem means!  But then, neither can I; how sad :(

Happy new year, dear reader!


Ramesh said...

Whoa Whoa - anybody who can write a post like this has left a bit of his heart back in the "old country" !

Beautiful songs, both of them. As for Tamizh Thai Vazhthu, actually most school kids are likely to be able to sing that song - just because its sung at a lot of "official functions" in Tamil Nadu. They may not know the meaning, or might not even care to know, but many can sing it all right.

Happy New Year to you too my friend, for there is much Tamil in your heart.

Sriram Khé said...

Of course there is in me a lot of the old country! So, what's new? ;)

Anonymous said...

The translation of the song can be found at the link below (scroll down):