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Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information (centre) with Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Ms Nalina Gopal. Ambassador Gopinath Pillai and others during the launch of the book
Photo Courtesy: Indian Heritage Centre

An inspection of connections between Tamils of the Coromandel Coast and Southeast Asia

The Indian Heritage Centre’s (IHC) new publication, Sojourners to Settlers – Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore, was launched by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran, on the 7th December 2019, Co-published by IHC and the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), the book delves deep into lesser-known aspects of Tamil history and heritage in Singapore and Southeast Asia, examining evidence of Tamil connections with the region for more than 2,000 years.

Evidence of these connections is presented through surveys of archaeological materials, including new interpretations of a key artefact in Singapore’s National Collection, the Singapore Stone. Researcher Dr Iain Sinclair, a contributor to Sojourners to Settlers, recently identified the phrase “kesariva” in the inscriptions on the stone, which he has suggested could be part of the word “parakesarivarman” – a title used by several Chola kings of the Chola dynasty, a Tamil dynasty of southern India and one of the longest-ruling in history. This is a highly significant finding that suggests a Tamil presence in the Straits of Singapore from pre-modern times.

This publication is the first between IHC and an academic institution, representing an important collaboration with a centre for research, such as IPS, in order to better document history and heritage. Over two volumes, the publication features the research of scholars from India, Singapore, Southeast Asia, the US and Europe, put together for the first time to bring to light different facets of Tamil diasporas in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

The book launch took place as part of a two-day international conference of the same name that featured a series of presentations and discussions by academics, researchers and community members on the topic of Tamil heritage in Southeast Asia and Singapore. The conference brought a gathering of speakers from Singapore, India, Germany, the US, and Southeast Asia. This illustrates IHC’s unique position as a platform that connects global,

The conference and book launch are held in conjunction with IHC’s latest special exhibition, From the Coromandel Coast to the Straits: Revisiting our Tamil Heritage.

Source: Indian Heritage Centre’s Press Release

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