Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (http://www.fetna.org) an umbrella organization of more than 50 Tamil associations across North America held between June 29th – July 1st at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, TX, focused onHeritage, Youth & Women.
“The focus of the convention was multifold, and it also included an exclusive one-day entrepreneur conference and two days of Tamil heritage programs,” said Sriram Krishnan, one of the organizers. An estimated 5,000 people from all over the U.S. and some from abroad gathered in Frisco, Texas to reconnect to their roots, their culture and their tradition during the 31st National Tamil Convention.
The convention, among other things, celebrated the culmination of global efforts to raise US$ 6 MM to setup a Tamil Chair at Harvard University. Tamil language is one of the oldest classical languages of the world and the only Indian language to be recognized as an official and/or minority language in countries like Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Canada, Mauritius and South Africa. The founders and directors of Harvard Tamil Chair as well as several key volunteers were recognized. The 2018 convention also witnessed the resurrection of youth competitions and introduction of several new competitions.
The convention also celebrated the 120th birthday of Thilliayadi Valliammai, the first woman from the Indian diaspora who worked with Mahatma Gandhi and gave her life for liberty and freedom in South Africa. It also celebrated Than Thai Selva, a Sri Lankan Tamil lawyer and politician who is considered a father figure among Sri Lankan Tamils.
The entrepreneur and business conference comprised of a Tamil Entrepreneurship Forum (TEF) that was attended by about 1,200 people. As many as 30 world-class business leaders, CIOs, social entrepreneurs and community leaders spoke at the daylong event. It was keynoted by C.K. Kumaravel, the founder of Naturals, one of India’s top hair and beauty salons. Kumaravel shared with the audience how his venture into uncharted territory led to success. Other speakers included Senthamarai Prabhakar, president of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America; Lakshmanan Chidambaram, president of Tech Mahindra’s Americas Strategic Verticals; Muru Murugappan CIO of BNSF, a Berkshire Hathaway Company; Ganesh Radhakrishnan CEO of Wharfedale Technologies; Prashanth Ram, founder and CTO of Gold Coast IT Solutions, and Latha Pandiarajan, cofounder of MaFoi Consultants.
Arul Murugan of 11-11 Ventures awarded $5,000 in prize money to the winners of TEF Junior, a VC pitch contest for students 16 and younger. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthy (D-Ill.) delivered the closing address of the business conference, urging greater involvement in civic matters.
Lena Kannappan, COO and head of Cloud IAM business for 8KMiles, announced the launching of the Dallas Chapter of American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association (ATEA). A serial entrepreneur with 24 years of software industry experience, Kannappan was instrumental in starting the TEF talk in such gatherings a few years ago to promote entrepreneurship spirit among Tamil entrepreneurs and to inspire the young generation.
One of the highlights of the convention was the recreation of the Thanjavur Brihadeeshwara Temple, constructed some 1,000 years ago by one of the greatest emperors of India, Raja Cholan. The location is a UNESCO heritage site. Several hundred volunteers worked for nearly nine months to recreate the temple that was the center of attraction at the convention.
The festivities included motivational speeches and discourses including one from the chancellor of Vellore Institute of Technology, G. Viswanathan. A global Tamil hour program included participation by Tamil scholars. It also had performances by Narthagi Natarajan, award-winning play troupe Manal Magudi and Tamil Isai by Sanjay Subrahmanyan.
The convention was conducted under the auspices of Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) and organized by Metroplex Tamil Sangam, Dallas which celebrated its 50th year. The cultural programs at the convention included Mangala Isai, the traditional
Nadaswara performance, followed by Tamil Thai Vazhthu, American National Anthem and a mega Broadway style dance recital by nearly 150 children, trained under renowned Bharatanatyam exponent Narthagi Natarajan. There were also performances involving traditional Tamil art forms – Pambai, Parai, Silambam, Karagam, Gummi – and a discussion on Tamil heritage. There was also a light music performance by singer Karthik, drummer Sivamani and Shaktisree Gopalan.
Nearly 40 parallel sessions were held on a wide range of topics,including Thurumular Pranayama, art workshops, a science fair, continuing medical education and medical symposium, and Tamil Isai, a movement that promotes pure form of ancient Tamil music.