Memorial Anthology of Sivarajah Kanapathipillai: a bridging personality

On Wednesday 16th February 2022 a commemoration and publication of a memorial anthology of the late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai took place at Utsikten Selskapslokale (Karihaugen) in Oslo, Norway. The event was organised and commemorated by Kanapathipillai´s family, Tamil organisations and the Tamil community in Norway.

The memorial anthology “Kanapathipillai Sivarajah: Memorial anthology 1944-2020” (“கணபதிப்பிள்ளை சிவராஜா: வாழ்வும் தடமும் 1944-2020») was published on the commemoration event.

The event was audiovisually documented by Vaseeharan Creation Tamil. And Ramesh Sivarajah made photo documentation of the event.

Vlog #05 Tamil | Late Kanapathippillai Sivarajah | Memorial Anthology Book | 16.02.2022 | Part 1 (Vaseeharan Creations தமிழ்)
Vlog #06 Tamil | Late Kanapathippillai Sivarajah | Memorial Anthology Book | 16.02.2022 | Part 2 (Vaseeharan Creations தமிழ்)

Sivarajah Kanapathipillai

In 1972, Sivarajah Kanapathipillai migrated as an immigrant worker from the village of Thumpalai in Jaffna in North Sri Lanka to Hammerfest in North Norway. He was one of the first Tamils who settled in the Arctic Circle of Norway. While he was working at the Findus fish factory in Hammerfest, he received a university admission to take upon a fishery study at the University of Tromsø. Already as an immigrant worker at Findus fish factory, he resumed his socio-political engagement and qualities from Sri Lanka in Norway. Imprints of his three-dimensional socio-political task force can be seen in the field of integration with the mainstream Norwegian society through his socio-political participation and democratic representation, empowerment in the welfare of the Tamil society in Norway, and development activities towards the Tamils´ homeland. The memorial anthology reflects him as a fighter soul in both personal and socio-political arenas.

Life records of Sivarajah talking about his sick wife, which created a forced situation for him to adopt his daughter away, are the mourning records in the memorial booklet. The memoir of his daughter and family members are stories that no one else can transmit to the future. Those memories reflect the hidden facets of the late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai and document the untold stories of his life. These memories show the sorrow, pain and struggle in human life. They will reflect the reality of life to the upcoming society. It will be a guide to encountering challenges in life. Past life histories will be exemplary for us and are experienced lessons. 

In the socio-political arena, the memorial anthology reflects him as an inspiration, role model, guide and mentor for many Tamils in Norway. As well as one of many pillars in the struggle for the rights and development of Tamils in the homeland. Especially, he has created a representation of Tamil society in the Norwegian mainstream arena and set an example of an integration model that also preserves the native heritage. However, he has been one of a kind as a marine resource development specialist in Norway and back home. It is noteworthy that he has been a marine resource development advisor for the politico-military organisation, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. His assigned position exposes their vision for the development of the marine resources of Tamil Eelam. 

He passed away on 06th December 2020 in Finland after suffering from a prolonged illness. Sadly, a well-known, lovable and friendly socio-political personality left the world silently and was unidentified until 16th February 2021. Thus, according to the memorial anthology, his death was not commemorated by either Tamil or Norwegian media or society at that time. However, may the commemoration and publication of the memorial anthology organised by his family, Tamil organisations and the Tamil society in Norway console the soul of the late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai, as well as the Tamils in Norway, other parts of the world and back home.

A unique impression was observed at the event of commemoration. The event reflected the late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai as “a bridging personality” inside Tamil society. The unique role could be seen in the holistic of the people who gave their presence at the event. The event advert/ invitation with the program list gave the first impression of such a “bridging personality”. Therefore, the event advert/ invitation is also a delicacy of the history of the Tamils living in Norway.

Kamalarany Sethar (Sivarajah Kanapathipillai´s sister) lighted the Tamil traditional auspicious lighting to start the event.

The story of individuals is the history of society.

The documentation of good days gives happiness, bad days give experience, the worst days give lessons, and the best days give memories. The days filled with emotions and experiences create our life stories, becoming our history. The relationship and interaction that an individual build with other individuals creates stories of society. The stories of a group of people form the history of a nation. It will reflect the qualities, characteristics, attitudes and nature of a society and a nation. The history of late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai is one of many voices that portray the history of Tamil-Norwegians. As well as becoming a part of the history of Norway. Thus, documentation of relationships and interaction of individuals create a “social documentation” (samfunnsdokumentasjon in Norwegian).

Genealogy – The importance of the memorial booklets and records of the commemoration events

The commemoration publication and the documentation of the commemorative events can be the final traces of one’s life. Commemorative publications in the Tamil diaspora should not only be done for well-known socio-political personalities, such as the late Sivarajah Kanapathipillai. It should also be done for everyone regardless of their level of interaction in Tamil society. This is important, especially for migrated societies that are under-represented or not represented on the mainstream platform. It is also essential for the genealogy of the Tamil diaspora. Thus, the family, Tamil organisations and society should function as a documentation and archive system to create “community documentation” of the Tamil diaspora.

Records of women participation

On the other hand, it is equally essential to document the interaction and relationships of female individuals regardless of their level of involvement, position, or role in society. Hence, “community documentation” also project gender representation and function as a role model for the future generation. A rare example of memorial documentation of a female Tamil-Norwegian is the commemorative anthology of the late Philominammah George, who lost her life in the Tsunami in Sri Lanka in December 2004.

Preservation of the memorial booklet of the late Sivaraja Kanapathipillai

Printed copies of the late Sivaraja Kanapathipillai´s bilingual anthology were sent to the National Library of Norway on 28. February 2022 for long-term preservation and public use in Norway. Three copies of the memorial anthology and a copy of the pamphlet were sent to Mo i Rana. On 19th March 2022, the digital file of the memorial anthology was uploaded for digital preservation. Also, the event invitation along with the event program list was also handed in for long-term preservation.

In addition to preserving at Norwegian repositories, DiasporA Tamil Archives encourage Tamil society to create Tamil public platforms to preserve, display, give access, use and circulate Tamil local publications within Tamil society. Tamil platforms will function as a local and familiar arena for access and use of published materials and documents that will tell the local history of Tamil society. Such platforms are not merely a place for borrowing books or for reading. They are monuments of identity. Such monuments in Tamil society will contribute to identity creation for the present and future generations.

DiasporA Tamil Archives also encourage Tamil society in Norway to let us know about funeral booklets, memorial booklets or memorial anthologies (நினைவு மலர்) published in Norway from the past and the present.


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