Oscar-winning musical composer A R Rahman posted an ode to the Tamil language on his social media accounts last week, in a powerful message that seemingly hit back an Indian minister’s remarks on how Hindi should be used across the country.
Rahman shared an illustration of “Thamizhanangu” of “Goddess Tamil” on his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The image posted by Rahman depicts a dark-skinned woman holding a spear with the Tamil letter, “ழ” pronounced “zha”, on the head of the spear - a letter unique to the Tamil language. The poster also featured a line from a poem from famed Tamil poet Bharathidasan - “Inba Thamizh Engal Urimai Sempayirukku Vaer” which roughly translates to “Beloved Tamil is the root of our existence”.
The post comes just days after India’s Home minister and chairperson of India’s Official Language committee Amit Shah faced backlash for stating that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English when citizens across India communicate and not “local languages”. He added that 70% of the agenda of the Cabinet is prepared in Hindi and that the language was “an important part of the unity of the country”.
His remarks caused uproar in Tamil Nadu, which decades ago battled against the imposition of Hindi in the state.
The current Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M K Stalin said that such a move would wreck the unity of India, whilst AIADMK leader O Panneerselvam said forcing Hindi on people is never acceptable, tweeting the hashtag #StopHindiImposition.
When asked about Shah’s comments days later, Rahman responded:
"Tamil is the connecting language".
This isn’t the first time that the renowned musician has showcased his love for the Tamil language or waded into the debate in India.
After winning the best original score at the 2009 Oscars, Rahman closed his speech with the words, “Ellapugazhum iraivanuke”, which translates to "All praise to God".
In June 2019, when there were plans to make Hindi mandatory for all states, Rahman had tweeted “AUTONOMOUS | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary,” with a link to the definition of the word.
The tweet, which went viral, led to fans and users across Tamil Nadu sharing the hashtag #AutonomousTamilNadu.