Mother Tongue Languages as a window to our cultural heritage
Opening remarks by Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth & Trade and Industry, at the Nanneri Thangam Event
06 December 2020
Ladies and gentlemen,
Vanakkam! I am happy to join you this evening for Nanneri Thangam a new programme organised by Kalamanjari as part of the Tamil Language Festival 2020.
The Tamil Language Festival is part of the Tamil Language Council’s efforts to encourage the use of the language in our daily lives. Our Mother Tongue Languages give us a window to our cultural heritage, while celebrating our multiculturalism which is one of our hallmarks as Singapore and Singaporeans. The traditions, practices and rituals passed down from our forefathers have shaped and been shaped by the interactions with other cultures, and developed over time to form part of what makes us uniquely Singapore. We should continue to seek the richness and interest in our mother tongues and our cultures from generation to generation.
While the Tamil Language Festival has been organised annually since 2007, this year is the first time that it is fully virtual, with 25 programmes ranging from storytelling to dramas and musicals, available on Zoom and Facebook – including tonight’s multidisciplinary musical performance with a poetry recital.
This format reflects the stark realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed a stern test for all of us, not least our cultural practitioners. I am heartened that cultural groups such as Kalamanjari have demonstrated innovativeness and resilience to present their stories and works through new, digital formats. This will enable all Singaporeans – and indeed audiences from all around the world – to enjoy the comfort and inspiration of our arts and heritage.
This evening’s performance also reflects how the Tamil Language Council seeks to work closely with community partners and organisations, to present exciting offerings to all of us. It is through such partnerships that we demonstrate how we are stronger together. I understand that today’s presentation is based on classic Tamil literature from Singapore, showcased in a manner that brings to life the language, and to appeal to new audiences, especially our youth. I thank Kalamanjari for stepping forward with its first-ever partnership with the Tamil Language Council, and also thank its co-founder Mrs Soundara Nayaki Vairavan for her passion about the Tamil language, and her past collaborations in the Tamil Language Festival.
I think everyone is looking eagerly towards the performance, as I am. I hope all of you will invite and encourage your non-Tamil speaking friends to participate in the Tamil Language Festival, and that you will likewise attend other language festivals like the Speak Mandarin Campaign and Bulan Bahasa or Malay Language Month, and also support the Speak Good English Movement!
I wish everyone a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thank you.