Features Walthamstow

Free Tamil Day celebration in Walthamstow this weekend

The celebration will include food, music, dances, martial arts and an exhibition of British Tamil history
By Victoria Munro

Costumed dancers (credit: WFTS)
Costumed dancers (credit: WFTS)

A free celebration of all things Tamil is coming to the centre of Walthamstow this weekend.

Tamil Cultural Day on Friday, 13th August, will feature traditional dances and music, martial arts and street theatre, stalls selling saris and food and an exhibition of British Tamil history.

Tamils are a South Asian community that originated in India and Sri Lanka, are predominantly Hindu and speak one of the world’s longest-surviving languages, which dates back to 300 BCE.

Their cultural celebration was organised by Waltham Forest Tamil Sangam (WFTS), a community group created in the 1980s to support the borough’s growing Tamil population.

Thulasi Manivannan, a WFTS committee member and teacher from Walthamstow, told the Echo: “This day is very special to us because the council has invited us to come celebrate our culture, so it’s quite a big deal.

“The decor will be set up exactly as it would be at a wedding, with mango tree leaves and an entrance made out of part of a banana tree.

“There will be about five traditional dances, all in different styles and using different props and instruments. For example, one of the dances uses a kitchen utensil, which would normally be used to separate rice from the husks.

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“We really want to make this an annual thing and have even asked for January to be recognised as Tamil Heritage Month, which is something they already do in Canada.”

(Credit: WFTS)

Thulasi added that WFTS was created in 1986 to help an influx of Tamil people fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Tamil people who had moved to the UK earlier for happier reasons, including her own late mother Krishnaverny Mageswaran, wanted to help their fellow “integrate into the local community”, helping them find jobs and housing and overcome the language barrier.

Thulasi said: “Once the second generation of immigrants started growing up, they didn’t want them to forget their roots so they started Saturday school, originally out of someone’s house.

“Nowadays, the Tamil school is in Frederick Brenner and has almost 200 students. Children learn the language and about their culture and there’s the opportunity to learn the traditional dances and instruments too.

“I used to be a student at the Saturday school and, for me, it was really important to understand our culture so I could easily connect to my relatives back in Sri Lanka.”

Tamil Cultural Day will be held from 1-6pm on 13th August at Fellowship Square. Find out more here.

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