Portal:Tamil People

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Tamil People

Tamil girl 1907.JPG

Tamil people (Tamilதமிழர், tamiḻar ?), also called Tamilars or Tamilans or Tamils, are a linguistic group native to Tamil Nadu, a state in India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. They speak Tamil (தமிழ்), with a recorded history going back two millennia. Emigrant communities are found across the world, notably Malaysia, Canada, Singapore, and the UK. The Tamils are mostly Hindus with sizable Christian and Muslim populations.

Tamil was the first Indian language to be given classical status. It has the oldest extant literature amongst other Dravidian languages. The art and architecture of the Tamil people encompass some of the notable contributions of India and South-East Asia to the art world. The famous Nataraja sculpture became a universal symbol of Hinduism. The music, the temple architecture and the stylised sculptures favoured by the Tamil people in their ancient nation are still being learnt and practiced. Thus, Tamils have been referred to as the last surviving classical civilisation on Earth. The Pallava script, a variant of Southern Brahmi used by the Tamil Pallava dynasty, was the basis of several of the writing systems of Southeast Asia, including the Burmese, Khmer, Thai, Lao and Javanese scripts.

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A 1910 postcard image of a Sri Lankan Tamil girl
Sri Lankan Tamil people or Ceylon Tamils, are an ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka who predominantly speak Tamil. According to anthropological evidence, Sri Lankan Tamils have lived on the island since the 2nd century BCE. Most modern Sri Lankan Tamils descend from the Jaffna Kingdom, a former kingdom in the north of the island and Vannimai chieftaincies from the east. They constitute a majority in the Northern Province, live in significant numbers in the Eastern Province, and are in the minority throughout the rest of the country. Sri Lankan Tamils are culturally and linguistically distinct from the other two Tamil-speaking minorities in Sri Lanka, the Indian Tamils and the Moors. Genetic studies indicate that they are most closely related to the Sinhalese than any other Asian group. With the Tamil and Sinhalese population sharing a common gene pool of 55%. The Sri Lankan Tamils are mostly Hindus with a significant Christian population. Sri Lankan Tamil literature on topics including religion and the sciences flourished during the medieval period in the court of the Jaffna Kingdom. Since the 1980s, it is distinguished by an emphasis on themes relating to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Sri Lankan Tamil dialects are noted for their archaism and retention of words not in everyday use in the Tamil Nadu state in India.

Since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948, relations between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamil communities have been strained. Rising ethnic and political tensions, along with ethnic riots and pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, led to the formation and strengthening of militant groups advocating independence for Tamils. The ensuing Sri Lankan Civil War has resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people and the forced disappearance of thousands of others. Sri Lankan Tamils have historically migrated to find work, notably during the British colonial period. Since the beginning of the civil war in 1983, more than 800,000 Tamils have been displaced within Sri Lanka, and many have left the country for destinations such as India, Canada, and Europe. Since the end of the civil war in 2009, number of Sri Lankan Tamils have sought refuge in countries like Canada and Australia.

Selected biography

Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanadesikan on 2 June 1943) is an Indian film composer, singer, lyricist and the first Asian composer to score a symphony for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a gold medallist from Trinity College of Music, London, and has composed over 4500 songs and provided film scores for more than 900 Indian films in various languages in a career spanning more than 30 years. He is usually referred to by the title Isaignani (literally meaning 'a man with great knowledge in music'), or as "The Maestro". He is based in Chennai, the centre of the Tamil film industry. He is a recipient of prestigious Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India.

Ilaiyaraaja has been a prominent composer of film music in southern Indian cinema since the late 1970s. His work integrated Tamil folk lyricism and introduced broader Western musical sensibilities into the South Indian musical mainstream. He has thrice won the Indian National Film Award for best film scoring. In the 2000s, he composed a range of non-film music, including religious and devotional songs, an oratorio, and world music. He is married to Jeeva, and the couple's two sons (Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja) and daughter (Bhavatharini) are film composers and singers.

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Agasthiyamalai range and Tirunelveli rainshadow
Credit: PlaneMad

The Agasthiyamalai range of the western ghats as seen from the rainshadow region of Tirunelveli, India. The southwest monsoon brings rain up to the ghats in Kerala while the other side in Tamil Nadu remains dry.

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Tamil People

Tamil People Countrywide: IndiaSri LankaCanadaMalaysiaSingaporeSouth AfricaEngland

Related Ethinic Groups: Brahui peopleGondKannadigaKhondsKodavaOraonMalayaliTelegusTuluvas

Related indigenous Groups: BadagasTodaKuruba


See also: Tamil script, Tamil Script Code for Information Interchange

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