World Tamil Heritage Centre
The World Tamil Heritage Centre is an initiative of Auroville to commemorate the rich and perhaps, world’s oldest contiguous living human heritage. The Charter of Auroville and the Spirit of Tamilnadu are inseparable and support the idea of spirituality and humanity in the same breath. After all, this is the land of the great seer and sage Thiruvalluvar, who traverses the worlds of Aram, Porul, and Inbam (Dharma, Artha, Kama) to the eloquent beat of four and three. Auroville, born in Tamilnadu, to bridge the dualities of the Spirit & Matter, through Integral Yoga, is a continuation to the great ideals of Thiruvalluvar.
WTHC’s focus is to rediscover traditional Tamil knowledge, connect various Tamil cultures spread across the world, and assist the progress of Tamils towards a meaningful future. Tamil heritage is an inherent aspect of the Tamil people. Tamil is rooted in various aspects of everyday life of Tamils which has been religiously safeguarded and taken forward wherever they have settled in the world. Thus, today, Tamil culture has taken roots globally in Sri Lanka, USA, Malaysia, Europe, Singapore, Caribbeans, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia South Africa, Japan, and multiple island nations of the Indian Ocean, apart from various parts of India. Tamil culture is expressed in language, literature, music, dance, theatre, folk arts, martial arts, painting, sculpture, architecture, sports, philosophy, debates, comedy, cuisine, costumes, celebrations, traditions, rituals, health, organizations, science and technology, etc.
WTHC is a forum to explore and celebrate everything Tamil. We partner with Tamil faculties of various universities, academies and cultural centres expounding both classical, folk and contemporary Tamil elements. We organise various annual conferences, seasonal cultural festivals, monthly campaigns focussing on one aspect of Tamil culture, educational workshops, and also publish books and seminar papers.
In total, WTHC is set up for the world to experience, explore, educate, engage, and empower Tamil Heritage.
Symbol of WTHC
The symbol of WTHC stands for the Tamil pride for a sustainable future for Tamils living around the world. The identity honors the traditional motif of our doorway – Vaasapadi, with the manjal kungumam (turmeric and vermillion) – the yellow circle with red dots. The symbol also represents the bull, which historically stood for valour, vigour, and vitality. It combines the classic motif with the folk traditions, and presents in a contemporary design. The identity also showcases the unique letter of the Tamil alphabets – akku, with the three dots.
ஏன்? - The Purpose
Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. The Mother wanted International Zone to host various nations of the world to celebrate everyone’s culture. In such case, Tamils being the host of Auroville, we need to create a centre that can represent Tamil culture as the foremost ancient cultures of the world.
Auroville is established by the Mother to take the ideals of Sri Aurobindo forward. And, Sri Aurobindo had strong connection with the Tamil culture, and he was appreciative of its heritage. Sri Aurobindo was a contemporary and friend of Subramani Bharathi, another great poet, philosopher and freedom fighter. Sri Aurobindo has translated some classics of Tamil to English, in His quintessential style. WTHC is meant to highlight that special bonding between Sri Aurobindo and Tamil.
Bharat Nivas: The Pavilion on India
Auroville International Zone already has a dedicated space for India. The initial idea was to host all the states of India. Ideally, a large chunk should be dedicated to Tamil, for it is the hosting culture of Auroville. Tamil is an important and one of the leading aspects of Indian Culture.
Sri Aurobindo has written a volume on Indian Culture, wherein Tamil also features prominently. If the cultural renaissance of India is to happen, it will happen at traditional cultural heavyweights, and Tamilnadu has been the epicenter of culture since the Sangam era.
Further, Tamil culture embodies Indo-Franco, Indo-Dutch, Indo-Danish, Anglo-Indian, Indo-Mughal Legacies
The government of Tamilnadu has already taken initiatives towards establishing a Tamil Centre in Auroville, back in the 70s. The then CM of Tamilnadu, Thiru Karunanidhi dedicated a substantial sum to commemorate Tamil in Auroville. That initiative has taken a slow but steady grounding in Auroville today.
The idea of Human Unity is not new for Tamilnadu. ‘Yaadum Oorey, Yaavarum Kelir’ is a spirit of Tamil for multiple millennia.
Promoting Tamil Heritage Worldwide:
Auroville receives about 10000 visitors a day, from India and abroad. They visit Auroville for its uniqueness of inception, and various other sustainable conceptions. It presents a great opportunity for the Tamil heritage to be presented in the spotlight. Alongside, there are various global and national initiatives, where Auroville is slowly becoming a standard fixture. G20, UNESCO’s five resolutions, Sri Aurobindo’s 150th celebration, PM’s visit during the 50th Anniversary of Auroville, and regular visits by dignitaries from the world over. If WTHC can create a memorable experience, the visitors will take the seeds of Tamil culture back with them, around the world. Historically, through trade, Tamils have had worldwide relations. This is an occasion to revive those old forgotten connections. Even in contemporary times, we can establish connections with the Tamil diaspora, and make them our ambassadors.
எப்படி? - The Process
The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity. At the center of Auroville, it has a Peace Zone with Mothermandir at its core. A place for cencentration. Thus, the real purpose of WTHC is also to stand for peace and Human Unity. We look at the past, present and future of Human Unity, through the lens of Tamil Heritage.
We look into the tradition of organization and progression and try to learn valuable lessons from our heritage, for today’s world. We know that traditionally, Tamils had a decentralized governance system with micro-level decision-making mechanisms at the villages. We are also aware that the Tamils governed large parts of Southeast Asia, and has established Indian culture. We wish to learn their secrets of success, which has stood the test of time. Large populations of the East are still following the traditions of Tamil, even after being under the rule of multiple foreign regimes, for more than a millennium. We will look into ancient political thoughts and treatises, ancient law and jurisprudence, social values, and ethics. We will also look into social norms related to well-being, health, and healing
We are researching the historic economic models and industrial mechanisms that made this place once, the richest in the world. The produce of Tamilnadu was in demand all over the world, and they successfully value-added to the produces of the East. They had a prosperous trading partnerships with the East, Arabia, Africa, Europe, and China to the north. The study of the past will hold valuable lessons for our future. We look forward to researching and documenting the aspects related to science and technology.
WTHC intends to celebrate everything culture and heritage Tamil. Starting with Language, Literature, Poetry, Philosophy, History, Drama, Performing Arts, Theatre, Music, Dance, Martial arts, Visual Arts, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Costumes, Crafts, Folk, Oral history, Dialectic Languages, Festivals, Ritual Cultures, Sports – Games, Cuisine, etc. At the same time, we will also celebrate contemporary cultural iconographies like media, music, and cinema.
Auroville is pivoted around a banyan tree. Thus, nature is an integral part of all Auroville initiatives. In WTHC, we will into the rich natural heritage of Tamilnadu, and research the traditional ecological solutions that preserved the rich heritage of flora and fauna of this land.
என்ன? - The Programme
- WTHC is a place to explore and celebrate everything Tamil.
- Annual World Tamil Seminar – Sangamam
- Monthly Talk on various aspects of heritage, conducted on the first Saturday of every month
- Tamil Library – state of the art.
- Permanent Exhibition – Walk-through experience
- Hosting ancient scripts and antiquities
- To educate people of all backgrounds about the language, traditions, art, literature, sports, music, architecture, history, cuisine of the Tamil people.
- Tamil Heritage Awareness workshops
- Periodic study tours to locations
- A lecture series on heritage-related themes every month
- Lectures at schools/universities globally to sensitize younsters on Tamil heritage
- Magazine – Potri
- Engaging other cultures, communities, countries
- Network to support and connect all Tamil organizations
- Diaspora connection
- ‘Tamil Fair Trade Fair’ at Bharat Nivas
- Exploration of historic heritage, reviving festivals, folks, research and publications
- Physical, Vital, Mental, Psychic, Spiritual aspects
- Audio-video documentation of Tamil culture and heritage.
- Tamil Heritage Podcast, Audio and Video Collections
- Tamils in Auroville
- Empowerment of young, female
- Strengthening Tamilnadu’s Tourism – Support TN/Pondy Government’s culture and tourism departments in their efforts towards promoting Indian heritage
- Promoting Tamil culture in Auroville and the world
- Supporting Tamil renaissance
- Awards for Tamil torchbearers