Colombo, July 25 (NIA): At a time when the Tamils of Sri Lanka are seeing the installation of Buddha statues in the Tamil-majority Northern Province as a sign of Sinhalese-Buddhist hegemony, an entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu in India has installed a Buddha statue in his native Thirunelveli and is installing 16 Thiruvalluvar statues in Sri Lanka in an effort to promote India-Sri Lanka friendship and Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation.
Dr.V.G.Santhosam, proprietor of the Chennai-based V.G.Panneerdas and Co., has gifted sixteen 8 ft Thiruvalluvar statutes to Sri Lanka to be put up in 13 schools in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces, the Hill Country, Colombo city and Puttalam, and in the premises of three Tamil Sangams in various parts of the island.
The statues, made in Tamil Nadu, were handed over to the Sri Lankan State Minister of Education, K.Radhakrishnan, here on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, the 80 year old Santhosam, said that by gifting the Thiruvalluvar statues to Sri Lanka and installing a Buddha statue in Thirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, he is ‘furthering cordiality between the two countries and enhancing their capabilities for cooperation to develop and grow.”
Santhosam said that when the people of Sri Lanka donated a statue of the Buddha to Tamil Nadu, the Ulaga Tamil Sangam of which he is President, accepted it, and provided land for its installation in Thirunelveli.
Pleased by this, the three Prelates of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, including the Mahanayakes of Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters, jointly conferred on Santhosam, the title of Desha Abhimanya.
Santhosam and Radhakrishnan justified the project on the grounds that the wisdom contained in Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural is not circumscribed by any religion and is truly universal. It could bring diverse communities together – a crying need of the present troubled times.
Thiruvalluvar was a Tamil poet and philosopher who lived in Tamil Nadu between 3 rd.Century and I st. Century BC.
Minister Radhakrishnan said that all departments and officials of the government of Sri Lanka worked tirelessly to bring the statues to the island, and particularly praised the Sinhalese Secretary to the Education Ministry, Tissa Hewavitharana, in this regard.
Santhosam said that he has been visiting Sri Lanka since 1976 and that he now sees the country marching forward. Wanting to contribute to the tourism and entertainment sectors in Sri Lanka, he said that he would establish in Colombo and Batticaloa, an entertainment and fun place for children and adults on the lines of the “VGP Golden Beach” in Chennai.
The idea of putting up statues for Thiruvalluvar in Sri Lanka was mooted by Maravanpulavu K.Sachithananthan of Jaffna and Chennai. When Sachithananthan put it across to Santhosam, he had in mind just four statues to be installed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. But Santhosam offered to gift sixteen. And when Sachithananthan asked the Sri Lankan State Minister of Education K.Radhakrishnan for assistance to bring them in from India and install them, the Minister said that he would take up the responsibility of installing them by making it a government project.