Members of the Tamil Youth Organisation in UK gathered in a London park in the early hours Saturday to follow the age old Tamil custom of boiling milk and rice in a traditional clay pot on Pongal day.
As in the rest of the Tamil community, the usually joyous event was muted amid the continuing hardships faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka, made worse by the devastating floods in Batticaloa and Ampara.
Hundreds of thousands of Tamils in flood-ravaged eastern Sri Lanka on Saturday marked the annual Pongal festival in makeshift camps amid a looming threat of death and disease. (See TamilNet's report.)
“Our people live under continued oppression and restrictions on their daily lives. A return to normalcy is a distant dream for them. They are not able to celebrate Thai Pongal the way they used to, so we decided to hold a low key event,” Barathi Ravi, a senior member of TYO, said in an email.
“Alongside the physical threat to our people, Tamil culture and traditions are under constant attack by Sinhalese policies,” she added.
“As unlike our people in the homeland, we are fortunate to live in a free society in Britain, it is our duty to practice and keep alive our traditions, and thereby to send a message to the Sinhalese government that they will not be able to eradicate our nation’s culture.”
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