Sri Lankans celebrate Sinhala Tamil New Year in solidarity in Toronto

History has shown, time and again, that though forces of fanaticism, intolerance and extremism may dominate in the short run, ultimately it’s moderation, reasonableness, and sobriety that prevails. Because human beings – no matter what their backgrounds are – are innately fair-minded, decent and reasonable. Human beings are also pragmatic and rational. No matter what horrendous atrocities are committed – ultimately sanity will prevail. This is what history shows us. There simply is no history of extremism dominating forever.

We of the Canadian Democratic Tamil Cultural Association are unshaken in our belief that this tragic chapter in our history will pass – that the people of Sri Lanka will ultimately find a way to resolve their differences and accommodate each others’ concerns. This mutual understanding and adjustment is already reflected in the way they are coping with the ongoing war.
One of the positive developments in Sri Lanka today is that more Tamils are living among the Sinhalese in the South than ever before. Ironically this is a consequence of the actions of those who are trying to turn the two communities into hostile camps. A basic truism of social science is that all social action have unintended consequences. One of the ironies of social changes brought about by the conflict in Sri Lanka is that social interaction between the two communities has increased phenomenally. Tamils who have had little interaction with the Sinhalese in the past are now living side by side with them.

In spite of the conflict, people of all backgrounds …. all walks of life….. somehow manage to get along in Sri Lanka in their day to day lives. In most parts of the country …… Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers ….. they all live side by side and they toil together in their fields, factories and offices and in their neighbourhoods.

Though the world media portrays otherwise, we – Sri Lankans – know in our hearts we are a caring, civilized society. No one can take that away from us. We no doubt have our difficulties and challenges as any multi-ethnic society does – but we have not lost our humanity. Though we may belong to different communities, as Sri Lankans we all share the joy of living on this beautiful island along with our common predicament: the need to find a way to accommodate each others’ concerns. We shall endure. We are a resilient people.

This is what we decided to celebrate: our solidarity as a decent people. And what more fitting occasion than the Sinhala Tamil New Year. This festival reflects the fact that we share common cultural bonds. By celebrating together we are also showing the Canadian mainstream that we are not hopelessly divided by some unbridgeable gulf as portrayed by the superficial western media.

Finally, the best tribute that we can pay to the ordinary but courageous people of Sri Lanka is to emulate them and live amicably in the Diaspora. We can learn from them how to live together in spite of all the political strife and the negative media hype. We can learn from them how to remain human in the most brutal circumstances…..how not to lose one’s humanity in the face of the gravest of provocations.

In Sri Lanka we live together, work together and struggle together to achieve peace. So why can’t we in Canada? Why can’t we have a dialogue? In my view, nothing that we do in the Diaspora to promote the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka can be more useful than such a dialogue.

But in order to make that contribution, we must not forget even for a moment that we are also Canadians. Yes it’s possible to be a Sri Lankan and a Canadian at the same time in today’s postmodern world. Under globalization multiple allegiances and trans-national identities are becoming facts of life. I believe it’s by exercising our “Canadian-ness” that we can make a positive contribution towards resolving the conflict in Sri Lanka.

As Canadians, we are entitled to the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter. Are we going to pursue narrow, divisive political goals in Canada and invoke the charter when inevitably the Canadian authorities start cracking down on these activities? In other words are we going to use the very Canadian Charter to undermine the democratic rights of our own people in Canada? Are we going to abuse Canadian democracy to create more suffering for our people in Sri Lanka? Or, are we going to use the Charter in its proper spirit – its intent, rather than its letter.

Today I believe we have taken the first step in that direction. For what we have done by celebrating Sinhala and Tamil New Year together in Toronto on 13th April, 2008 is to emphatically exercise one of the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Charter: the freedom of association. The right to associate as we like, the right to gather as we choose – not as those with authoritarian, extremist persuasions among us would prefer.

Sam Rajendran
President
Canadian Democratic Tamil Cultural Association
Toronto
e-mail: cdtamilca@yahoo.ca

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17 Responses to “Sri Lankans celebrate Sinhala Tamil New Year in solidarity in Toronto”

  1. Karu Suriyabandara Says:

    Sam,

    You said it. Now and forever, peace should prevail between all the communities. You are a great human being.

  2. Damitha Mendis Says:

    Thank you sir!!!!

    What a great little article, i couldn’t have said it better my self. It is so true that the media has been misleading the audience with their bed time stories to gain their own advantages in their fields about the way sri lankans are-however we sri lankans know what the reality and how we all live together in our communities in sl and i believe it’s only a matter of time before everything come together and things will be retored once again.
    happy new year to all the sinhala and tamil sri lankans

  3. Hector Perera Says:

    Dear Sam
    Well said. This is also a dream that I like to see, come true very soon. We want peace and we should find a way to force the Srilankan regime to stop this stupid war. Though they try to depart us, means Sinhalese & Tamils, our hearts are together.

  4. Mano Says:

    Simply great work. Keep it up.
    This is the only way to defeat Sinhala and Tamil Racism. All three communities need a common forum. Unless we bring out the possitive potentials of all communities that to help to sit down togather and discusss this deeply ran problam, no other way to solving this.

    You guys have proved, that these kinds of gatherings are still possible

  5. Din Says:

    Keep the activities alive.. eliminate extremism.. eliminate terrorism. We all are Sri Lankans.. both Sinhalese and Tamils. So lets hope for a better Sri Lanka without tiger terrorists and Southern political terrorists..!!

  6. mr.George Says:

    Getting sense . Good thinking .keep at it .you will get there.

  7. Punchihewa Says:

    What a fantastic bit of news to read in this troubked world and in particular Sr Lanka’s. In the UK we have also a Sri Lankan Medical and Dental Association which is non racial and distributes money to ALL the Medical and Dental Schools in Sri Lanka

  8. Christopher De Silva Says:

    Well done Sir. I salute you.

  9. serinar Says:

    Dear Sam,
    I like your article! I hope the best for Srilanka. More power!!!

    Regards,
    Serina
    http://serinar.wordpress.com

  10. Kela Sivanathan Says:

    Hats off to the organizers of this event! It was one of a kind and it was the first such event in Toronto, I should say. We felt like Sri Lankans and not Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims or Burghers in that auditorium.
    It reminded me of my childhood days in Sri Lanka, when we, children from all communities attended one school and participated in concerts, sports meet and celebrations without any discrimination, although we were in different medium of instruction, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I think it is still the same with the children in Sri Lanka, except for the Diaspora, which is unaware of the life style in Sri Lanka, and live selfishly with hatred and anger and widen the distance among us Sri Lankans living away from home, basking in luxury.
    Sam, the President’s speech was very touching and expressed the sincerity and the true purpose of the event. I salute you for your courage. You are on the correct path. Fanatics and the so called moderates will always have something to say. Ignore them, focus on your goal and keep moving forward! I hope the CDTCA organizes many more such events and bring all Sri Lankans together in Toronto.

  11. Chelliah Premarajah Says:

    Congratulations and Best wishes to CDTCA.

  12. bavani Says:

    When I first read about this event in “Ethiroli” newspaper just a couple of weeks ago, I could not believe my eyes. I read, re-read, then read it again .. it was music to my ears. In the 17 years that I’ve been in Canada, I don’t recall hearing about such an event. So, hats off to CDTCA for celebrating the new year as “Sri Lankans”. Sam Rajendran’s speech on that celebration day is moving and powerful.

    The more we organize events like this and celebrate as “Sri Lankans” the stronger we will become to rise up against the fascist LTTE and their brainwashed puppets who behave like herds of sheeps. It is so unfortunate and sad that over the past decade or so that we, the Canadian Tamils, have lost our right to express in this wonderful country. It is time that we changed that forever! Let this be a new beginning to unite all Sri Lankans, especially the ones living abroad.

  13. Justin Antony Says:

    Dear sir,

    Greetings from Justin Antony ( Social Worker, Guinness Achiever, Youth Awardee, Motivational Speaker).

    The efforts u have taken to develop our culture are laudable and praise worthy.

    I have published a book SKY IS THE LIMIT with an aim of helping the poor students. It has been appreciated by His Excellency Governor of Tamil Nadu. Pls give me ur postal address, so that I can send a copy.

    Regards
    Justin
    0091 9790590700

  14. tharshi Says:

    In a country like Canada we CAN all ( tamils, burghers, singhalese..etc) unite.. but seriously in your heart tell me do you think that is possible in Sri lanka?? Where theres discrimination towards tamils? Tamils are treated so badly… even animals get treated better then them. I understand that this unity amongst the people living in canada is a good idea… just to let you know there is NO problem between tamils and singhalese people in canada. And for those who talked shit about LTTE and prabhakaran.. first of all.. the reason tamils are still living in Sri lanka is cause of the LTTE.. without them the sri lankan government would have killed/raped/harrassed the tamil population… Think about B4 the formation of the tamil tigers there were CONSTANT riiots causing the death of numerous tamils. Seriously, its our brothers and sisters who are dying back home as a result of the sl government …and here people are talking about ltte??? LTTE attack the SLA and maybe in those attacks civilians got caught…. but its the SLA and the government who directly attack the civilians… so who is the Real terrorist..
    Sam Rajendran im not trying to put your ideas/association down… i honestly respect your idea of unity.. but sadly that idea can only be a reality in the western world.. so please stop supporting the Sri lankan government. We WILL get Tamil EElam.. Tamil Eelam will bring forth everlasting peace to the Tamils!!!!

  15. Prasha Says:

    Hi All

    Good for you all! Congratulations..so are u all Singhalese? is that what it is? and you have no integrity? no dignity? but u all are peaceful humanbeings? ooh i get it okay then ..well good luck losers!

  16. nandana weerarathne Says:

    We are planning to telecast Sinhala New year festivals around the world. Derana TV that agreed to telecast Lovavata Aurudu on 14th April. Can you send Details of your New Year celebrations to us please. My email nandiweera56@hotmail.com

  17. PromoProx Says:

    love the site layout

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