By Suchitra Srinivas
New York: Tamil Diaspora from the US and Canada are all headed to the Queens borough this weekend for the 35th Annual Convention of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) held in-person after two years of pandemic break.
FeTNA, a non-profit umbrella organization of 65 Tamil Sangams across the US and Canada, historically hosts its annual convention in different US cities during the July 1st weekend. This year the convention will happen at St John’s University, Queens, NY.
Also, this year seems special, coming after the past year’s online convention experience. The excitement is palpable as people are eager to meet the Tamil folks from across borders.
“Over 1800 people are expected to attend this convention this weekend,” said Ranga Purushothaman, the FeTNA convention coordinator.
“The theme for the 35th convention is ‘Thalaimurai Thaandiyum Tamil’/ Tamil for generations,” said Caldwell Velnambi, President, FeTNA.
Over 400 volunteers have worked over 9 months to get this program in shape. The first day starts with TEFCON, the Tamil entrepreneur’s conference.
The highlight of the second day event are the star guests who fit the theme of the convention. Indian Chess Master R Praggnanandhaa, 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Harini Logan and Piano maestro Lydian Nadhaswaram. Special workshops and competitions are on cards for Saturday.
“We have overwhelming responses for the children’s events and these parallel sessions are expected to be well attended,” said Bala Swaminathan, Secretary, FeTNA, who is also the incoming President for the next term. It is notable that FeTNA in 2021 conducted the children’s competitions online, in which over 2500 students across the country participated.
Other student-centric events include contests like Kural Thene; couplet recitation of Thirukkural, vocal and instrumental music, essay writing, dance, chess, and more to fill the cards under Vanakkam Vada America stream. Thamizh Koorum Thalaimurai is yet another popular oratorical contest.
Sanga Tamizh, a dance drama by a troupe of over 55 dancers trained under famous Indian classical dancer Madurai R Muralidharan will perform the play written by the Late Chief Minister Kalaignar M Karunanidhi.
Other eminent personalities expected at the convention include radio broadcaster, BH Abdul Hameed, actor Arivu, TV journalist Karthikai Selvan, MP Su Venkatesan, Siddha doctor Ku Sivaraman, G Balachandran, IAS to name a few.
Ranga also said that Tamil Nadu government participants including Vice-chair Of Tamil Nadu State Development Policy Council, Jeyaranjan, TN Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, TN minister Thangam Tennarasu, MP Tamizhachi Tangapandiyan are expected to attend.
Film actors Parthiban, Napoleon, Kadir, Pandiyarajan are also on the guest list. Tamil isai concert by vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan is on the cards for Saturday as well.
A group of non-Tamil speaking students from Indiana University are performing a dance for the famous Tamil literary contribution called Agananooroou on Sunday. The literary group quiz program ‘ilakkiya vinaadi vinaa’ is much sought after one, being conducted every year during the convention. Participating teams come from different cities and they prepare for this quiz remotely months before the contest. Friends and connections bloom at this program every year.
A group of 60 students trained by Indian film music composer James Vasanthan will be presenting the group singing performances of songs of famous Tamil poets and lyricists.
Interesting programs would be the cultural performances by each of the participating Tamil Sangams.