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Revellers take part in the fourth annual Sydney Chithirai Festival
A spirit of celebration resonated in the air. Added to this, the sentiment of cultural solidarity as well as song and dance to top it all, made it a memorable day at the recently held Sydniyil Chithiraith Thiruvizha, or Sydney Chithirai festival, marking the Tamil New Year at Rosehill Racecourse.
Now in its fourth year, the colossal, day-long event is notable, and worthy of praise, for solidifying the cultural ties of the Tamil community in Sydney. Organised by the Tamil Arts and Culture Association Inc. (TACA), it is hailed for bringing together Tamilians traversing geographical boundaries including India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Mauritius and other parts of the world.
This year, the Tamil Nadu government’s cultural entity, Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Manram, stepped forward and principally supported the festivities. The organisation’s Chairman and veteran South Indian film music director Deva (a.k.a Thenisaith Thentral), along with his ensemble of 20 renowned folk artists, delivered many Tamil cultural folk performances for the gathered spectators. Acts like Karagam, Kaavadi, Poikalkudhirai Attam (dummy horse dance), Kaali, Naiyandi Melam, and Kai Silambu Attam, left the audience spellbound. The ensemble is regularly invited to perform in the Indian Republic Day Parade and their talent and skill were certainly evident.
President of TACA Anagan Babu said, “This is a unique festival loved by the Sydney Tamil community for its folk flavour. They feel back at home. This festival is growing year-on-year and this year its special as the Tamil Nadu government has joined with us in promoting Tamil folk arts on foreign soil. I thank all our sponsors, stall holders and many other supporters to have made this happen.”
Food stalls at the venue supplied attendees with delicious Tamil cuisines – the idli and dosa were not to be missed. Kids were comfortably engrossed in various amusement games.
TACA also received support from other organisations including the Australian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation, SBS Tamil Radio and many others. The Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC) Parramatta including Executive Director Melissa Monteiro, the Ethnic Community Council and SydWest Multicultural Services were also represented at the festival.
As the event was held in western Sydney just prior to the NSW State election, there was a strong showing from local politicians. Special guests who attended the event included Parliament Secretary for Justice David Clarke MLC and Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Michelle Rowland. Labor party members John Robertson, Julia Finn and Susai Benjamin were also present along with their Liberal colleagues Geoff Lee MP, Tony Issa and Deputy Mayor of Hornsby Gurdeep Singh.
Chithirai marks the first month in the Tamil calendar. The Chithirai Festival is a celebration during the month of Chitirai (April) in Madurai, India. It is also one of the longest celebrations in the world as it lasts for the entire month. Legend has it that the first 15 days of the festival are celebrated for Goddess-deity Meenakshi and the next 15 days are for Alagar – an avatar of Lord Mahavishnu.