Federal elected officials among the guests at festive Château Royal event
For a fifth consecutive year, more than 40 organizations again came together to celebrate the contributions of Tamils since their arrival in Canada.
Approximately 1,000 guests, including representatives from several other cultural communities and many elected officials from the three levels of government, took part in the celebration at the Château Royal in Chomedey.
A networking event
The admission-free event was held on Sunday January 15 from 10am-3pm. Lunch and refreshments were provided, along with a great opportunity to learn and network with fellow leaders and organizations within the Tamil community in Quebec.
Among the guests were several prominent elected officials, including federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis, Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury, Alfred-Pellan Liberal MP Angelo Iacono and Bourassa Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg.
Celebrating Tamil heritage
Tamil Heritage Month, which started in 2010, aims to celebrate the history of Canada’s Tamil community and its contributions to the social, cultural, political and economic strength of Canada.
While recognizing the Tamil community’s accomplishments and tracing its roots, Tamil Heritage Month also provides opportunities to celebrate the Tamil community’s history in Canada. As well, the month-long observance shines a spotlight on Tamil heritage overall, while helping to rejuvenate Tamil culture in Canada.
Tamil Heritage Month goals
According to organizers of this year’s event, the objectives of Tamil Heritage Month are five-fold:
1. To celebrate the richness of the Tamil language and literature;
2. To celebrate the traditions, arts and culture of Tamils around the world;
3. To educate Canadians of all backgrounds about the language, traditions and history of the Tamil people;
4. To highlight the achievements of Tamils in various fields both in the past and the present;
5. To advance the growth and prosperity of Tamils.
They say the month of January was chosen as Tamil Heritage Month for a number of reasons. The Pongal festival, the most important and widely-celebrated festival amongst Tamils around the world, falls in the middle of the month.
Pongal and a New Year
Pongal is both a time of thanksgiving for the blessings of a past year and a time to look forward to the start of a new year. As well, the first month of Tamil calendar, Thai, begins in the middle of January.
According to tradition, the Pongal festival marks the end of winter solstice, as well as the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards when the sun enters the Capricorn, also known as Uttarayana. Pongal is regarded as one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people.
Tamil diaspora celebrates
It is observed by the Tamil diaspora worldwide, including Tamils in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore and the Gulf countries.
Canada’s Tamil population is among the largest in the western world. From a population of fewer than 150 in 1983, Tamils form an increasing share of the overall Canadian population.
According to Statistics Canada figures, there 237,890 Tamils living in Canada in 2021, a more than 25 per cent increase since 2016. Quebec is home to more than 20,000 people of Tamil origin.