That Luxembourger Patrick Staudt loves Tamil culture and language is hardly surprising, given he lived in Malaysia and Singapore for 15 years.
“These two South East Asian countries have a pretty mixed population, similar to Luxembourg, with big groups of Malay, Chinese and Indian citizens,” says Staudt, who left home in his early twenties and returned to the Grand Duchy in 2005. “Tamil is one of four official languages in Singapore. I had many Indian friends there and I felt closer to the Indian culture than to others,” he adds.
Staudt is an active music player and says he has come to love and appreciate Indian music, particularly the composer A R Rahman, popularly known for the song ‘Jai Ho’, the theme tune to the Danny Boyle film “Slumdog Millionaire”. “I enjoyed the music and read the subtitles. Slowly I came to know some Tamil and could speak sentences from the songs,” he Staudt.
He started following the conversations of his Tamil friends and it ignited his interest to learn the language. He plans to start Tamil language classes soon with the newly formed Tamil Sangam Luxembourg association: “I want to speak some basic sentences, as I visit India regularly. Even to understand the songs and movies in their original version would be nice.”
“It’s a festival of lights observed by Hindus from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka, usually in the Tamil month of Karttikai, which is mid-November to mid-December,” explains Swaminatham Balasubramanian, one of the board members of TSL.
Tamil is recognised as one of the classical languages by the UN, and is an official language in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. “It’s also one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world, with recorded Tamil literature documented for over 2,000 years,” says Balasubramanian, a banking software consultant and one of approximately 250 Tamil people living in Luxembourg.
Tamil Sangam Luxembourg board members (from left) Archana Murali, Jeya Jeyachandran, Arul Selvaraj Louisraj, Harikrishnan Venkatesan and Swaminathan Balasubramanian speak during the group’s inaugural event on 14 April 2018. Photo credit: TSL
When Staudt heard that a Tamil association was forming he decided to actively support the initiative. “It teaches kids aspects of the roots of Tamil people, their traditions and culture, and most importantly their language. One should be open to the country and society to integrate, but also at the same time never forget your roots,” he says.
“We believe our thoughts, ideas and the beliefs of our culture are attuned to our mother tongue,” says Balasubramanian, adding: “We want to show our language, food and culture to the Luxembourg people.”
Staudt agrees that “only by understanding each other’s cultures can real integration happen. Both sides can work here together”.