Tamil Language Festival: In Vain Without Support From Youths

Tamil Language Festival will be back once again in a few days' time. Once again we will have a month packed with Tamil events. Once again, an opportunity for us to celebrate the Tamil language.

But once again, it will all be in vain if it does not receive the support it needs from our Tamil youths.

Organising competitions and events can be done. Not the easiest thing ever, but eventually it can be done and invites can be sent to youths inviting them to participate. But when youths fail to support these events, all the effort in organising these events would go to waste. 

Sure, the Tamil community in Singapore is a relatively small one in comparison to other Tamil communities across the globe. But that gives us all the more reason to go full force in supporting these events right? 

Some may argue that it's good enough for them to speak Tamil at home for Tamil to stay alive. Statistics, however, beg to differ.

The number of people speaking Tamil at home has been on a slow, yet gradual decline. According to a general household survey done by the Department of Statistics Singapore, the percentage of people aged 15 and above who speak Tamil at home (with at least secondary school qualification) decreased from 40.6 in 2000 to 35.5 in 2005.

Since we are clearly not speaking Tamil enough at home, the next best way to ensure that Tamil lives on Singapore would be for us to lend our support to Tamil events. 

Imagine working hard organising a competition and seeing only 3 teams come forward (that too after a lot of persuasion from your side). Imagine organising a Tamil cultural performance and only seeing 50 per cent of the seats being filled. Sad, right?

Let's look at the situation from another perspective. Imagine being one of the youths who signed up for the competition, and getting all excited and preparing, only to get informed that the competition has been cancelled due to a lack of participants.  

This is the reality here in Singapore right now. We do have events coming up, but a good number lack the support they need to really be successful. 

At this point I think its important to clarify something. I'm not saying that youths in Singapore are unenthusiastic and unsupportive of Tamil events. They are supportive, and they are excited for these events.

What I'm saying is, there's not enough of these youths around. More youths need to take the initiative to involve themselves in Tamil events. 

Next question: Why do many youths not feel compelled to attend these events?

If truth be told, there's a few reasons why they are not attracted to these events. Firstly, the events are not always very relevant to today's way of living and today's society. Hence youths fail to see the relevance of these events. Secondly, most youths are not interested in pursuing a career in the Tamil language field, and hence arrive at a conclusion that Tamil is pointless and irrelevant. Thirdly, youths are not being pushed hard enough to speak Tamil at home by their parents, who are likewise coming to the conclusion that Tamil is on its way to becoming obsolete. 

Basically, it's great that we have events like the Tamil Language Festival around. What needs to be done from here is for people organising these events to design and craft the events such that there is relevance in it to Singapore society and its way of living. 

Perhaps this way, more Tamil youths will be more motivated to take part in and support Tamil events.


Personally as a Tamil speaker in Singapore, I've always been vaguely aware of the possibility of Tamil disappearing, but never took it seriously until I happened to see this short film, Tamil Ini. Watch it and think about the situation in Singapore:

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