Why I Believe Tamils Should Marry Tamils

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Last week’s article on interracial marriage prompted fierce discussion and debate. Here is one writer’s perspective on why marriage within the Tamil community should be encouraged.

Racist, narrow minded, deluded and not of the 21st century! These are some of the comments I may be getting at the end of this article. I believe that everyone should have a choice in their significant others, and do not denounce Tamils who opt for interracial marriage. Yet I also believe that marrying within one’s ethnicity is essential to creating a world where a variety of cultures are preserved without being homogenized into a more dominant one.

As Tamils, we share a common sense of identity, language and beliefs. Marriage is only the beginning in the long and continuous commitment to carry the Tamil cultural legacy of our ancestors spanning thousands of years. Marriage is something beyond a man and woman living together jointly; it is a tradition involving the merging of two families and steeped in traditions and beliefs passed on for generations. Marriage within our ethnic group allows us to preserve these values and traditions as both couples cherish a common identity and culture.

As diaspora Tamils, we have moved thousands of miles abroad in search of opportunity and to make a better life for ourselves. We have adopted foreign lands as our own, built places of worship, and formed cultural organizations and institutions to preserve our identity. One cannot deny that our unified Tamil identity and traditional Tamil values imparted to us by our parents – a respect for elders, faith, traditions, education, marriage and family – form the foundation of the success that diaspora Tamils enjoy today. And in a marriage in which both partners are Tamil, we are in a much more advantageous position to preserve and transmit these values to our children.

Furthermore, while I agree that race is a social construct, encouraging interracial marriage will not put an end to racism. In South America, multi-racial Brazil has a large mixed-race population. However, those with European ancestry comprise the country’s elite and privileged, while darker-skinned mulatto and Afro-Brazilians face significant socioeconomic disadvantages and discrimination. The same is true in all of Latin America where an explicit racial hierarchy exists, with those of European lineage at the top, and with those of mestizo, mulatto and indigenous ancestry at the bottom.

Growing up in multi-racial Singapore, I have seen light-skinned “Chindians” (children born to Tamil and Chinese mixed marriages) identify with the larger Singaporean Chinese majority at the expense of their Tamil identity. Almost all mixed-race Chindians take up Mandarin as their second language, find a Chinese partner and lose their religion. It is almost unheard of for a Chindian to marry a Tamil partner. And as politically incorrect as it may sound, the more numerically and economically dominant ethnicity will always supersede in the racial identity of a mixed-race child. In diaspora communities where Tamils comprise a small minority, most will cease to identify as Tamil in subsequent generations.

Joe Clark, the 16th Prime Minister of Canada, once stated “Canada is a community made up of communities.” From the Charlottetown Conference to the Northwest Rebellion to the Meech Lake record, ethnic identity forms a critical part of Canadian history. Moreover, the political powers of the Tamil community are vested in on our strong population base. We do not have a Tamil-Canadian MP today because political bigwigs at the federal level openly embraced our community. We have a Tamil-Canadian MP because we had a strong population base in a federal riding where Tamils are numerically dominant. There is strength in numbers, and when our population decreases our political power within our country diminishes.

While we should not denigrate those who marry outside their race, there should be a greater effort to encourage dating and marriage within our community. The Jewish diaspora is highly endogamous, preferring to marry within its own community to maintain their ethnic identity. Online dating sites like Jdate.com cater to this need. Likewise, the Nattukottai Chettiar community and Brahmin Tamil diaspora – despite being small in numbers – still stick to marrying within their caste. Love knows caste in their case!

I understand that from a liberal perspective, the entire human race is comprised of descendants from Ethiopia. Race is an arbitrary social construct. However, I prefer to live in a world where individual cultures and identities thrive, without being lost to more dominant cultures. To ensure that our Tamil language, culture, values and ancestral legacy – steeped in thousands of years of tradition – are preserved, marriage within our ethnic community should be encouraged.

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For an alternative perspective, check out “Love is Colourblind… But Not to Some”.

Want to share your input? E-mail us at editor@tamilculture.ca. We will get back to you shortly.

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45 thoughts on “Why I Believe Tamils Should Marry Tamils

  1. Very well written; the author definitely gets his point across. Unlike some people from last week who disliked the notion of interracial marriages yet couldn’t rationalize their views.

  2. I’m impressed. Very well written with good arguments to support the article. Still won’t change my mind about interracial dating though :p

  3. @348c40647974d0e3479972cbbeeea1f8:disqus what are you 13 or something? someone praises a differing viewpoint while standing up for their beliefs and that needs to somehow be put down with name calling? geez someone needs to cut your air supply

  4. Don’t agree with the sentiment – I don’t believe marrying outside your ethnicity diminishes your numbers as a race, but merely spreads your way of life and culture – but I appreciate the sensibility and clarity in your argument.

    Sadly, you seem one of a small number of people capable of putting this subject across calmly, while also displaying an appreciation of people who do otherwise.

  5. Well you gotta understand one thing. Topics on interracial marriages, inter-caste marriages and feminism have been discussed from a Tamil perspective in a lot of Tamil t.v channels and Tamil books for years. Heard of writers Sujatha? Tamilvanan? Kalki? You would be surprised by the arguments put across. Some very, very liberal. Its just that its mostly in Tamil and that is why I emphasize the importance of language. Language is intertwined with culture. Till it is given due importance, I am sorry to say there will be always issues and identity crisis within the Tamil diaspora. My humble opinion.

  6. Although this article is very well written and completely opinionated so I can’t really argue because it is the authors beliefs, I don’t think that a tamil person should completely shut out the possibly of a partner from a different background. I love the Tamil culture and I think that others should be able to learn it as well… You shouldn’t forget that there is a positive side to interracial marriages, you make it seem like when a Tamil person gets married to someone who’s not Tamil they immediately let go of all their culture and traditional values that they’ve learnt so far… which is completely ridiculous. I’m not taking the complete opposite side, I’m just saying that one shouldn’t limit their options in anyway when it comes to searching for “the one”…

  7. We have to understand we are talking about people who choose arrange marriage… those who love… they marry for love…you can’t talk about any of this bullshit to them….

    But to those who choose arrange marriage… to them, whatever you wrote..is not bullshit…

    But the question is… why would someone marry someone from other race or other caste.. if they are not marrying for love but for sake of marriage…

    We all should focus on improving our culture by adding modern changes… all the other cultures that are called “better” in the world now, have been like ours very long time ago…but then they had great philosophers and thinkers who added many changes…

    If and only if all you so called smart people and writers like you start to think and bring changes in a positive way, our culture will survive…

    Else, our children are going to laugh at us and adopt other cultures….

    Caste and other discrimination elements were created for a purpose…. but now social and economical structure have been changed…. in modern world, people who identify themselves as high caste in our culture do low caste jobs and vice versa… because, the world now uses the modern philosophy started in US… oh man you all should read….

  8. Anda pulladan thailandku temple visitku poren kenjuthula? avana saavadikura? vudu sithapu!

  9. This article is exactly that.. A personal opinion piece. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion no matter how open or closed it may be. Personally don’t agree at all and think its a little unrealistic but whatever.

  10. It really does depend on the person. I would personally marry someone that is tamil mainly because my parents don’t speak English well and I don’t want there to be a language barrier.
    Even when marrying someone that is Tamil there’s the whole issue with the caste! To me it’s absolutely ridiculous that my parents still believe in this. I’ve talked to them about this many times and tried explaining to them that this is indeed DISCRIMINATION and it’s so wrong. They continue to stand by their beliefs mainly because all of our relatives follow the caste system too.
    I’m going to be so screwed if I fall in love with someone that does not have the same caste. I really have no idea what I will do in that position.
    Has anyone been in this kind of dilemma?

  11. Start dating a black person. After that they won’t care what caste you marry, so long as you get with a Tamil.

  12. Stop bullshitting about personality… We all know, including yourself, that the only reason you love white men is for their race and not because their personality is better than any other men’s….

  13. Hello Mr.Kumar Vinoth, I just wanted point out something here. As far as I know writer Sujatha, Tamilvanan and Kalki never wrote books about feminism or interracial marriage. If you want, you may mention writer Vaasanthi, Shivashangari, V.Usha and Bhrabanjan. They all are well-known for handling feminism and inter-caste marriage in their novels.

  14. I can understand where the author is coming from. I have been to Singapore with my husband and the bias against Tamils was very very clear and very very obvious.
    Doesn’t it depend on the person? If the person wants to assimilate into the dominate culture and lose their Tamil identity that’s their decision. However if a mixed couple wants to embrace the Tamil cuture and make their children proud of their roots what is wrong with that? I am Australian and my husband is Sri Lankan Tamil.  We’re having a child next week and we’ve made a conscious decision to give her a Tamil name and have plans to send her to Tamil school once she’s old enough.
    Funnily enough I am more interested in Tamil culture than my husband does! I want my daughter to know who she is, and that she comes from one of the world’s oldest and continuing classical cultures and she should be proud. She will also know about my family history too, of course. But our decision has been to ensure that our children will be aware of their Tamil roots and will grow up being proud of that.

  15. @k_jay im not anywhere close to even thinking about marriage (early 20s), but my grandparents believe in the caste system, and my mom believes in respecting her parents so i know how its going to be. I find it ridiculous and unbelievable that individuals still believe in this stuff.

  16. Marry who ever you want, its the authors opinion. Depends on the person reading it though, if you can relate or not.  If you haven’t been exposed to much of your culture and can’t speak your mother-tongue, is it really your fault you may not be interested in someone Tamil, or are you going to look for someone Tamil so your children will be able to know their background?

  17. i too was born n bred in this multi racial country…also my parents..only my grandparents came from jaffna.and i totally agree with u tht tamils should marry tamils…but of course it depends on individuals…  but i dont see it happening in my family and around me especially from the tamilians were once upon a time jaffnese..

  18. @k_jay Explaining something like caste to tamil parents who have been brought up in a community which swears by it, is near enough impossible! I don’t just have to worry about caste, but profession, religion and how well brought up the person is?!

  19. KKCharli 
    I just came across this article (it’s now December). You and your husband must be proud parents. It’s great that both of you have come to an agreement of raising your child with exposure to both cultures. Ideally, that’s how intermarriages are supposed to work. Unfortunately in the case of Tamils marrying outside their race. 8 out 10 times, they allow the other partner’s culture to take over. I can so understand where the writer Vinoth Kumar is coming from because I am from Malaysia, another multi racial country. Here too like in Singapore, a lot of successful, well-to-do Tamil men end up marrying Chinese women and their children — the Chindians — end up being more Chinese than Tamil. They might speak Mandarin or their mother’s dialect but they would not speak Tamil. They also identify themselves more with Chinese culture than with Tamil. This is especially so if they belong to upper class. It is only their looks that give them away as a byproduct of Chinese-Tamil marriage. As the writer explains, many of them go on to marry Chinese. 

    Another interesting point to note is that in the case of Indian Chinese mixed marriages, the number of Indian men marrying Chinese women is far larger than Chinese men marrying Indian women. This is also the case in the US in terms of African American and white marriages. Far more black men are married to white women than white men to black women. In the case of Singapore/Malaysia, sometimes the Indian men think they have one up over other Indian men when they marry Chinese women.

  20. Answer: there is no valid reason if you live in the western world in he 21st century. Any ancestral Tamil place should be respected for their ancestral ways but remember… in or about 1935-36, in Europe, an emerging leader wrote in a well known book that the purity of a race is maintain by avoiding “pollution” from other races… His leadership and his views led the world in what we call WWII… do seriously think that maintain the purity of an ethnic group warrant such concept.. marry only within your group (color + religion + ethnic)

    Please do not jump from the roof calling names… i am just simply reminding of a historical event, where one leader thought to impose a cultural – ethnic way  to ensure future prosperity, that encompass these restrictions, often seen now a day in some continent like India – Middle East  – Asia….and yes… red neck in the western world…

  21. Good piece of article. 

    There is no real right or wrong when we discuss about marriage within ones own race or with other races. The most important thing to remember is the consequences of such marriage and its long term impact on our families and society. 

    I also believe that there is nothing wrong to stick to ones caste when it comes to marriage. At the same time, It is also not wrong to promote inter caste marriage especially among the diaspora Tamils.

    Here is my opinion on how we can promote it in the diaspora.

    http://sharmalanthevar.blogspot.com/2013/12/intercaste-marriage.html

  22. MenakaB- Hi. Yes, we have a beautiful little 8 month old girl. She has a Tamil name and we read Tamil children stories to her. We teach her names for things in both English and Tamil. We’re trying our best.
    I understand what you are saying. It would be the same everywhere if you completely assimilate into the dominant culture. To be honest my husband is less enthusiastic about teaching her about Tamil culture because he isn’t very aware of it or interested himself. That might be the problem. Unless you are interested in your own culture, how are you going to be interested in passing your culture onto your children? 

    Don’t worry, I will make sure she goes to Tamil school and learns Bharatanatyam dance! 🙂

  23. Vinoth kumar, you have no right to be posting here. You are a south indian and not a Tamil. The Ceylonese people in Malaysia/Singapore do not marry Chinese like you South indians do so not come here posting racist genocidal content. Just explain how you south indians are tamils? You people can speak english does that make you english? Lankans have nicer features to you south indians so do not come here labelling Lankans under the same category as you south indians who have no language of your own! The real Tamils are Lankans not south indians.

  24. also vinoth kumar, a Lankan person would never marry a south indian so your article here is flawed and the its purpose is to encourage genocide of the ceylonese race. How is a south indian like you related to a ceylonese like me? Why don’t you explain before writing your racist articles?? You south indians are the cause of the genocide in lanka so why don’t u stop talking nonsense and go find your own forum to post.

  25. SharmalanThevar go and post in your own south indian forum. You people have no language of your own, just copied it from the Ceylonese. Do not dare steal our identity. Why don’t you claim you are an Englishman, see what the English do to you.

  26. Vijayan_09 It’s nothing but in terms of perspective. He mentioned it earlier. So, if you as a reader, is obsessed with facts, you should have exited this article. If you were curious like now, since you’ve read it all, thus you should share positive critics and not condemn it as racist. And just because this article has overlooked on the Lankans, you’re creating a havoc as if the South Indians have dominated the civilisation of Tamilians. It’s impossible to believe when one say the majority of South Indian population came from Sri Lanka, right. So, since the escape of some South Indian Tamilians to Lanka, thus you shall not provoke any issues by differentiating the Tamilians from Lanka and India. Both share the same culture. It’s just that one gets deviated by culture shock or inadequate knowledge as well as passion towards this golden culture. Instead of being a keyboard warrior on doing shoutouts about the greatness of Lankans preserving the culture, why don’t you try an article to stimulate the realization and passion towards culture amongst South Indians who are in India, Malaysia and Singapore, not excluding the ones lost in the western side?

  27. vetrithillagan2693 Vijayan_09 why don’t you go to a south indian forum racist dravidian? Why don’t u people get accepted by north indians? Is that why you people start your racism here on a LANKAN forum?? You people get abused by north indians and I can see why now. Even malayalees, kanadigas do not like you people, because your people are one of the most racist people. Not only racist but robbers who steal other people’s culture and claim it as their own. I’ve never heard of any race that steals other people’s culture and then claim that those people come from them? U people are really full of it. Why don’t you prove that Lankans come from India. U people have to hire north indians for your so called movies and u claim the better looking lankans come from south india. U people are darker whilst lankans have nice golden brown skin and nicer eyes. Anyone can see you people who are rejected by the north indians have nothing to do with lankans. Do you want to be embarrased any further? U darkies related to lankans what a joke.

  28. Please watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f06KZtvmG4&feature=youtu.be which shows Lankans are not from India and thus people like vinoth kumar have no right to be posting here! These racists will not dare post in a north indian forum or an english forum like this. He is like many south indians with an inferiority complex claiming they are tamils and robbing the Lankan identity.

  29. So you think that by posting this comment, you can start a fight between the Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils? Nice try but it is not working. Perhaps you should create more fake IDs to help you spread the hate.

  30. SharmalanThevar start a fight u racist madrassi? U people being here are starting the fight. Who are indian ‘tamils’? Why don’t you call yourselves english now then racist dravidian?! We have nothing to do with your people are not even wanted by north indians so don’t come here trying to think you rule Lankans.

  31. SharmalanThevar racist southie, how are you dark skinned people with average features related to the lankans? ha ha are you people english as well?

  32. Vijayan_09SharmalanThevar weird… i thought only “White – Caucasian” where (could be) seen as racist… this is too funny.. all because people do not see colors or races, and go by other mean this raise racist remarks.. really… too funny, because this cannot be a serious comment.

  33. Quebec01
    He is an attention seeker. There are thousands like him in the internet. Their only purpose is to create a mess in healthy forums. So ignore him. Let him continue till he gets tired of it. I won’t be surprised if he is not even a Tamilan. Have a good weekend!

  34. SharmalanThevarQuebec01 poor you…!! i am not TAMIL … nor INDIAN… nor ASIAN…. and yes, i would love people to think beyond a narrow minded vision, self serving religious righteousness… You can ignore indeed, freedom of choice intended… but changes are coming and will change ways you know. Embrace them and support them or be a “victim” of these changes… your choice.

  35. Quebec01 Vijayan_09 SharmalanThevar if you comment make sure it is a worthwhile comment. Are you implying I’m racist? Why don’t you prove it or otherwise shut up. Oh so what I’m saying it not serious, why don’t you show how it is not serious??!!

  36. SharmalanThevar Quebec01 racist idiots like you are the ones comming here to seek attention. Just tell me the purpose of your comments? Who is a tamilan you idiot? Just explain how a person is a language. Really you are pathetic.

  37. This is utter rubbish. It seems marriage is just a mean of continuing your so called language, religion and culture. Have you heard anything called you ‘Love’ that exists in this world. Well, I’m sure you have not. For people like you, your wife is a sex object and a slave. Come out of the stone age you live in. There is a whole new world out there. Where everyone is free to love anyone they like regardless of the language they speak or religious beliefs!

  38. ah… sure he believes this but that’s his opinion.. and why is there a jewdate website in the ads…

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