Tamil Nadu Foundation’s 44th annual convention attended by nearly 1,500 Tamil culture, heritage celebrated in New Jersey

The rich and ancient culture of Tamil Nadu was celebrated as nearly 1,500 people from across the United States came together at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center here, May 26 and 27 to attend the 44th annual convention hosted by the Tamil Nadu Foundation.

The two day event showcases a variety of programs — from presentations on TNF’s humanitarian activities, to panel discussions and debates on the goings on in the state as well as Tamil culture and traditions by Bharathi Baskar and Pattimandram Raja of SUN TV, a Carnatic music workshop by Nithyasree Mahadevan, a Siddha medicine workshop, an immigration workshop and cultural programs and traditional cuisine.

TFN presented its Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to P.R. Perumalswami, one of its four founders, who died Oct. 29, 2017. He also served as the foundation’s second president. He worked as an engineer with the Ford Motor Company for three decades, where he men-tored several young engineers. He also served as a faculty member at the South Dakota School of Mines.

At the youth convention held in parallel, Tamil youngsters discussed such issues as college admissions, keeping up with the Tamil culture, volunteering in India and in the U.S. and how community service helps build not just a resume but life skills. The youngsters displayed charts and models displaying their ancestral villages in Tamil Nadu, showing their creativity with the use of clay, cardboard, poster boards and foam to make models and houses and construct roads and farms, recreating their native villages. Youth also heard about career options from people who have excelled in their respective fields. For a career in public service in

The foundation is the largest and oldest US-based charity organization that is solely focused on the state of Tamil Nadu, TNF president Somalay Somasundaram said. “TNF has implemented more than 600 projects on education, women’s empowerment, rural development and healthy and hygiene throughout Tamil Nadu since 1974,” Somasundaram said.

The convention included a variety of programs – from presentations on TNF’s humanitarian activities, to panel discussions and debates, workshops, cultural programs and traditional cuisine the U.S., students could interact with Krish Vignaraja, policy director to former first lady Michelle Obama and now a candidate in Maryland’s gubernatorial race – or Thiru Vignarajah, the former deputy attorney general of Maryland and candidate for Baltimore City state’s attorney.

For a career in medicine, the youth panel engaged in a discussion with physicians from the American Tamil Medical Association and met people like Ananya Ram who spent last summer interning through the TFN in India. Ram, an 11th grader from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, spoke about how volunteering is not just about giving time and resources, but gaining self confidence, independence and presence of mind.

During the evening, the attendees were treated to cultural events -there was the dance drama “Karna,” choreographed by Madurai R. Muralidharan, featuring local New Jersey artists; “Sakthi,” a production on women’s empowerment by Sumitra Ramji and a light music concert by playback singers Sathya Prakash and Pooja.

Somasundaram said the TFN collected an estimated $250,000 from the event, the proceeds of which will be dedicated in accordance with the donors’ wish to TNF projects in one of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry and/or to Kanavagam, the home for destitute girls in rural Tamil Nadu.

Somasundaram said the TFN collected an estimated $250,000 from the event, the proceeds of which will be dedicated in accordance with the donors’ wish to TNF projects in one of the 32 districts in Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Pondicherry and/or to Kanavagam, the home for destitute girls in rural Tamil Nadu.

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