Group Celebrates Sri Lankan Tamil Culture in Naperville

Sri Lankan Tamil Culture
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Neuqua Valley High School student Sanjay Ganesh knows there’s much to be done about preserving Sri Lankan Tamil culture.

“Sri Lankan Tamils were forced to emigrate from their home country and move around the world,” Ganesh said. “A lot of the Tamil speakers, their dialect, their traditions, their cultures were impacted.”

One local group, headed by Ganesh, is looking to make a difference by organizing a hybrid celebration of Sri Lankan Tamil culture for high school students in the area. The Sri Lankan Tamil Student Association will host its sixth annual Iyal Isai Natyam at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Ashwood Clubhouse, 4515 Chinaberry Lane, in Naperville.

What to Expect

The event aims to serve two purposes, celebration and fundraising. Debate, discussion, interviews, dancing, and food are among some of the highlights. A local Sri Lankan Tamil band, Ilaya Raagan, is scheduled to perform a handful of new songs to cap off the event.

“There will be one live dance,” Ganesh said. “This dance will be with the live band. So, that will be a fun one to watch.”

Last year’s event went virtual because of the COVID-19 mitigations and restrictions. Organizers would like to limit in-person attendance this time and are encouraging virtual participation.

Celebration with Purpose

Ganesh said he hopes the event inspires people to take greater interest in the Sri Lankan Tamil culture.

“We want to promote our Sri Lankan Tamil culture, our identity, our traditions and our heritage,” he said. “We feel it’s important. Places, like, Toronto have better representation. But here specifically, the Sri Lankan Tamil subset is dying away and we don’t want that to happen.”

The Sri Lankan Tamil Student Association—whose membership consists of high school students from across the Chicagoland area, including Naperville and Aurora—has a fundraising goal to raise $1,000, which Ganesh said would cover the group’s costs this year and provide enough to fund service projects.

Admission is $5 per person at the door, and funds also can be donated online. More information is available on the Sri Lankan Tamil Student Association’s website.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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Photo courtesy of Sri Lankan Tamil Student Association