Advertise here

National Anthem In Tamil: Mixed Reactions

By Waruni Karunarathne

While some political parties have criticised the move to lift certain restrictions on singing the Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil, many have praised it as a step towards reconciliation.

President Maithripala Sirisena has stated last week that the government would send a circular to all institutions saying that there is no bar on singing the national anthem in Tamil. Upon this decision, certain Sinhala-Buddhist extremist groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) highly criticised the move saying that permitting national anthem to be sung in Tamil is unconstitutional.

However, many pointed out that it is important for the Tamils to sing the national anthem in their language. Leader of the Democratic People’s Front, Minister Mano Ganesan said that National anthem and National Flag are the elements of expression of nationalism of a citizen of any country and it is pivotal to let Tamils sing national anthem in Tamil to bring them into the national mainstream. He added that during the previous regime, this subject came to a high point of debate. “Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila, BBS and others were on a (war) path, totally rejecting this constitutional right of the Tamil speaking community. They went to the extent of getting then Interior Affairs Minister John Senaviratne to submit a cabinet paper. It was to order citizens, state and school administrators to refrain from using the national anthem in Tamil,” he added.

The original Sinhala song written by Ananda Samarakoon has been translated into Tamil by poet Muthuthambi. And the music score is the same. Therefore these hardliners are nothing but extreme racists who reject anything Tamil and who are trying to take our country backwards. Tamil speaking people of this country have been using the Tamil national anthem for the last 65 years until a group led by Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila opposed it in 2010 – Leader of the Democratic
People’s Front Minister Mano Ganesan

Minister Ganesan said even though the previous government put that on hold, the fear psyche had already gone into the minds of the state administrators in the Tamil speaking regions and Tamil regional Government Agents, Assistant Government Agents and school principals either refrained or blocked the use of the national anthem in Tamil due to their fear of the regime. According to him even the army in the North had added to people’s fear and schoolchildren were forced to sing only the Sinhala version of the national anthem. Ganesan explained that this is not a new anthem but only the translation of the Sinhala version praising Mother Lanka.

“The original Sinhala song written by Ananda Samarakoon has been translated into Tamil by poet Muthuthambi. And the music score is the same.

Therefore these hardliners are nothing but extreme racists who reject anything Tamil and who are trying to take our country backwards. Tamil speaking people of this country have been using the Tamil national anthem for the last 65 years until a group led by Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila opposed it in 2010,” he added.

He also questioned the stance of former minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara who is today with former Minister Wimal Weerawansa and provincial council member Udaya Gammanapila.

He emphasised that the Sinhala version of the constitution has the Sinhala anthem and the Tamil version of the constitution has the national anthem in Tamil. Some may claim that the Sinhala one has the official sanction and Tamil has no such approval. If so, I will struggle for having the official status for the Tamil anthem by proposing a constitutional amendment in the future. But at the moment Tamils should not be only permitted but encouraged to sing the Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil, officially or unofficially. This is the way forward for the unity and reconciliation,” he insisted.

There is no change in the meaning of the words or music and therefore there is no issue. We shouldn’t make Tamils sing the national anthem in Sinhala because they feel the meaning only when they sing it in their mother tongue,” he added. However he said that even though the anthem should be allowed to be sung in Tamil regionally in Tamil speaking areas and institutions, in national events the anthem should be sung in Sinhala

JHU Spokesperson
Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe

According to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Suresh Premachandran, it is a right of  the Tamils to sing the national anthem in Tamil which is already granted in the constitution and there is nothing unconstitutional about it. He added that it was the former government that put restrictions and forced the people to sing the anthem in Sinhala – and under such condition, he said, President Sirisena’s move is appreciable.

He further added that there is nothing new about singing the national anthem in Tamil and it is only some extremist Sinhala groups who have raised criticism.

Parliament MP D.E.W Gunesakara said that when he was the Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms he anyway allowed people in Tamil areas to sing the national anthem in their mother tongue. “There is nothing wrong with that. When I was the Minister of Rehabilitation in Jafna and Kilinochchi I let them sing the anthem in Tamil in my ministry,” he added. According to him, immediately after the war he had the first meeting in his ministry in an army controlled area and the army had asked him not to allow the national anthem to be sung in Tamil – but, he said, he disregarded that and allowed the people to sing it in Tamil. “Tamil people should be able to understand the meaning of the anthem and for that purpose they have to sing it in their language.

If we do not make a big deal out of it they may actually decide to sing it in Sinhala like in India where everybody sings their anthem in Bengali,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Spokesperson Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe added that if we are to change or amend the national anthem or the national flag then we need to get the approval from the majority of the parliament and go for a referendum. He added that according to the Sri Lankan constitution the National Anthem of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall be “Sri Lanka Matha,” the words and music of which are set out in the Third Schedule.

However, in this case he added it is only singing the translation that is sung in Sinhala. “There is no change in the meaning of the words or music and therefore there is no issue. We shouldn’t make Tamils sing the national anthem in Sinhala because they feel the meaning only when they sing it in their mother tongue,” he added.

However he said that even though the anthem should be allowed to be sung in Tamil regionally in Tamil speaking areas and institutions, in national events the anthem should be sung in Sinhala.

 

Comments are closed

advertise

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes