Tiruchirapalli

Tracing their roots from Reunion Island

A French Reunion island team interacting with students at Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near Tiruchi on Sunday....

A French Reunion island team interacting with students at Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near Tiruchi on Sunday....   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

Out of the 8.5 lakh population in the island, 3 lakh people are Tamils

It was a trip Bernard Goulamoussen (50), a French citizen of Tamil origin settled in Reunion Island, had been longing for since his childhood.

Eagerness writ large on his face, Goulamoussen tells how he was able to see traces of his roots wherever he went during his current trip in Tamil Nadu.

For, he had no idea to which part his ancestors who had migrated more than 200 years ago belonged.

Goulamoussen was among a group of 10 such visitors to Tamil Nadu from Reunion Island, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean, who have come to the State to understand their forefathers’ culture, tradition, civilisation, ancient history, educational system, rituals and practices.

After visiting several parts of the State including Chennai, Madurai, Dindigul and Thanjavur, they landed in Tiruchi on Sunday to explore its cultural heritage.

Led by Yogacharya Nilamegame, a native of Puducherry who had settled in Reunion Island about 30 years ago, they visited Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near here and interacted with the students to understand the Indian educational system.

Like Goulamoussen, most of the group members also have no knowledge of their mother tongue Tamil.

But, they still practice Tamil culture reflecting in the way they dress and religious practices.

“We do not know where our forefathers lived in Tamil Nadu. We feel ecstatic to be in the land of our origin. We may have forgotten Tamil. But we have not given up our tradition yet,” says Goulamoussen, a temple priest, in French.

Out of 8.5 lakh population of Reunion Island, 3 lakh people were Tamils. Except one-third among them, the rest had poor knowledge about their roots in Tamil Nadu.

“But then, it is because of our deep understanding of festivals of Tamils and religious practices that we regularly recite Devaram and Thiruvasagam in temples,” said Nilamegame, who has penned a book on rituals of Tamils in Tamil and French.

After the interaction, N. Nallusamy, former Minister and Chairman of Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology felt that the State government should set up an exclusive Department to teach Tamil language to the diaspora, particularly in Reunion Island, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 7:34:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/tracing-their-roots-from-reunion-island/article22399082.ece

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