DDSB and DENSA Celebrate Tamil Culture and Traditions

Photo: Vimy Ridge PS Grade 7 student Akshini demonstrates her musical talent using the veena at Terry Fox PS in Ajax.

Educators, students, and parents gather at Ajax school to celebrate Tamil Heritage Month

Photo: DENSA Co-Chair Tharmila Apputhurai thanks attendees at Terry Fox Public School in Ajax.

On the evening of January 24, Durham District School Board educators and families joined together at Terry Fox Public School in Ajax to celebrate Tamil Heritage Month.

Organized by the Durham Educators’ Network for South Asians (DENSA), the Tamil Heritage Month Gala offered a night of lively entertainment, social engagement, and learning.

Photo: Students from Terry Fox PS treat the audience to a traditional dance performance at the Tamil Heritage Month Gala.

“Tonight is about celebrating Tamil culture and traditions, but it’s also about the students,” explains Tharmila Apputhurai, Co-Chair of DENSA. She adds, “We want to work with parents and teachers to build our students’ identities and teach those who might not know.”

To start the gala, a few DDSB educators, DENSA members, and community partners took turns “lighting the lamp.” This tradition symbolizes the removal of darkness, and the illumination of knowledge.

Photo: DDSB Education Officer Barry Bedford lights the lamp to begin the Tamil Heritage Month Gala at Terry Fox Public School.

Students sang the Canadian national anthem in French, English, and Tamil; performed a Kummi and a Bharatanatyam dance routine; strummed the strings of the veena, and beat the ancient drum, or ‘mridangam’ (known as the tannumai in Tamil).

Photo: Tamil Heritage Month attendees create beautiful kolam art using rice flour at Terry Fox Public School.

After the performances, attendees ate traditional Tamil foods, socialized, and enjoyed the breakout sessions. The sessions included kolam making (a form of drawing that is done using rice flour or chalk), Silambam (an ancient weapon-based martial art), learning to speak Tamil in 20 minutes, and oral storytelling.

Apputhurai says hosting these events goes beyond celebrating culture and traditions, “Our next step is to take this into the curriculum and instill the knowledge within all of our students.”

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