City home to Tamilians since its inception

  • Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 18, 2013 17:22 IST

Tamilians in tricity
Strengthening bonds with the Tamilian community, the UT administration in 1978 opened two Tamil-medium schools at Bapu Dham colony and Maloya, which are of great help to their children.

Presence of the Tamilians in the city can be traced to 1952, after the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu K Kamaraj mutually agreed to the then Punjab chief minister Bhim Sen Sachar and class 4 jobs were allotted to 1,000 Tamil families in the UT administration.

After the formation of Chandigarh many IAS, IPS officers and top-level officers in public, private and government sectors from the community were posted in the city. Out of a population of 15,000, 11,000 are Hindus and 4,000 Christians.

Pongal is main festival of the community. It is a four-day harvest festival and is celebrated every year from January 13 to 16.

Sri Karthikeya Swami Temple in Sector 31-D is the community's main temple in the city, where all rituals are being followed as per their strict south Indian customs. The temple has 146 statues.

It was during the peak of militancy in Punjab in the 1980s when Tamilians in the city felt the need for a temple for Lord Muruga, the warrior who fights evil, to safeguard people from militants. Surprisingly, not even a single family opted to shift to safer states out of fear but stood firm with strong faith that Lord Muruga would save them.

Govindvel, vice-president, Chandigarh Tamil Association, who is in the city since 1966 and speaks fluent Punjabi says, “Most of the people from our community migrated to Chandigarh in early 60s after Tamil was hit with draught. We have seen Chandigarh growing and now our generation is even marrying north Indians.”

“Though we are away from our state, here in city we learn cultural values from the people of others states. We are thankful to the UT administration for starting two Tamil-medium schools at Bapu Dham Colony and Maloya, which are of great help to our children. Today, along with our own culture, we enjoy and adopt local culture for better living,” says SP Rajasekaran, general secretary, Chandigarh Tamil Association.

Gunashekaran, who runs a south Indian restaurant in Sector 47 for the past decade, says, “I worked in so many places but Chandigarh is one of the best places. The members of our community want that the weekly train to Madurai should run at least twice a week.”

Know the community
Population: 15,000
Festivals: Pongal, Navratri and Diwali
Food: Rice is the major staple food. Lunch or dinner is usually a meal of steamed rice (choru), served with accompanying items which include sambar, dry curry, rasam, kootu and thayir (curd). Rasam, idli, dosa, wada, uthappam and south Indian ring parotta are some other cuisisnes from the state.
Main temple: Sri Karthikeya Swami Temple in Sector 31-D, Chandigarh
Prominent Tamilians in tricity
Dr R Muralidharan, endocrinologist, Fortis Hospital, SAS Nagar.
K Selvaraj, IPS, additional director general of police, Haryana.
Ram Kumar Esakki, chief operating officer,  Kudos Chemie Limited, Dera Bassi.

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes; Serves: 4

Tomatoes, chopped: 2 medium
Arhar dal: 4 tbsp
Tamarind: 1/2 lemon sized ball
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped: 1/4 cup
Dried red chillies, broken: 2
Rasam powder: 1 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida : pinch
Salt to taste
Curry leaves: 10-12
Ghee : 4 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
* Wash, drain and cook arhar dal in two cups of water until soft. Strain and mash cooked dal well. Reserve the strained cooking liquor.
* Reserve two tablespoons chopped coriander leaves for garnish.
* Soak tamarind in one-cup warm water; remove pulp, strain and reserve. Mix tamarind pulp with the remaining coriander leaves, rasam powder, asafoetida, salt and half the curry leaves and bring to a boil.
* Reduce heat and simmer for two to three minutes. Add tomatoes and the reserved cooking liquor. Simmer for four to five minutes and add mashed dal. Stir well and cook for a minute more. Remove from heat and sprinkle the reserved coriander leaves.
* Heat ghee in pan and add mustard seeds, when they splutter add broken red chillies and remaining curry leaves and stir well.
* Pour the tempering over the prepared rasam and cover immediately to trap the aroma. Serve hot.


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