Folk traditions are "nearly" and "quickly" disappearing from the Tamil community in the North
Ramupillai Murugupillai from Mulliyawalai is always delighted to perform
Tamils from the northern part of Sri Lanka are known for their unique folk art tradition, which has been in existence for many centuries. Famous lullaby (தாலாட்டு) and mourning (ஒப்பாரி ) songs are rarely sung in the north including Jaffna peninsula.Folk tradition is slowly, but steadily disappearing from the Tamil community in the North of Sri Lanka.
“I have been a folk singer for four decades. I got displaced from Jaffna to Vanni in 1995. My passion for folk songs and singing continued, despite the difficulties due to the prolonged war. But our wellbeing is neglected” shares with frustration, a folk singer Kamalambikai Kanapathipillai from Mulliyawalai.
Young people are not coming forward to learn folk dance or music.
“We are best known for our unique folk music and dance. But, it is quite unfortunate due to three decade of war, our traditional art forms have “nearly died” in Vanni. “Kovalan Kooththu” and “Magudi Aattam” were very famous in Vanni three decades ago, and performed throughout the nights for more than15 hours during temple festivals. Jaffna Music Festival has helped to revive, rejuvenate, resurrect and preserve the unique art form in the past.
People are not interested in learning the folk music or dance. The younger generation does not want to take folk art as their career because it does not pay well. Therefore, folk artistes have changed their career over the period of time.
The society does not recognise the existing folk artistes and give them due place. Nobody comes forward to help the folk artistes. And, as a result the younger generation does not get absorbed into the troupe. There is lack of knowledge about our existing unique traditional art forms. Due to war and displacement, we have lost many of our extra ordinary talents and traditional dresses, jewelleries and crowns worn by our folk artistes many generations ago. We do not have a folk art museum to preserve and showcase our specific folk art forms. Currently the older generation has the knowledge about our unique folk art such as Kovalan Kooththu” says Kanapathipillai Arunthaharan, Senior Lecturer of Department of Tamil at the University of Jaffna.
Kovalan Kooththu is the most difficult folk art form, because the barefoot pushed on the ground with frequent force
A handful of folk artistes including Ramupillai Murugupillai from Mulliyawalai are delighted to be identified as “folk artistes”. They still continue to perform when chances are given.
“I began to dance Karagam, when I was 16 year old. I am 78 year old now, still I dance Karagam. It is a duty of all of us to preserve the folk art” says Ramupillai Murugupillai from Mulliyawalai.
The older generation of folk artistes from the North is highly worried that the unique traditional art forms are “nearly” and "quickly" disappearing from the community.
"We have great history of arts, dance and music which are deeply interconnected with our history, culture and religious rituals. We should not lose our tradition and it values. They need to be preserved for many generations” shares Santhirasegaram Sivasithambaram from Mulliyawalai.
Magudi Aattam is hardly known among the people
"It's sad to note that our Tamil folk art traditions which are dying off from the practice. We have to work hard to preserve it from disappearing" says Eroshan Puviraj, Student of Engineering faculty, University of Moratuwa.
The prolonged war has left us with nothing. There is an urgent need to preserve our values, unique tradition and practices from disappearing.