Book on travails of Tamil workers who came from India in the 19th century


Matalai Somu

By H.H. Wickramasinghe

A novel authored by Matalai Somu, a prolific writer, who is now living in Australia will be launched on 18th March at the Colombo Thamil Sangam, Wellawatte under the chairmanship of Prof. S.Sandarasegaram, advisor to the Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganeshan.

 Matalai Somu has written 25 books in Tamil, including several novels, short stories, literature and travelogues. His book on ‘the wonders of Tamil indigenous medicine’ was his magnum opus acclaimed by many scholars interested in the discipline. Although he lives in Australia he still remembers his mother land, language and his people and that is the reason why he is appreciated by the Tamil literary circles nationally and abroad for his writings on themes pertaining to the living conditions of his people. This book under the title ‘KANDY SEEMAI’ depicts the sufferings and anguish of these people during their departure from India to Sri Lanka during the 1820s.The title of the name is of some significance. In the 19th century the upcountry was known as Kandy and the word SEEMAI literally refers to England but idiomatically it refers to resourceful.

Hence the meaning is resourceful Kandy or upcountry where there were opportunities for employment and wellbeing. Matalai Somu has done a historical research by analyzing information from writings of British who lived during the same period. The novel is mostly based on authentic historical facts as revealed by Prof. K.M. de Silva, Prof. Basthiampillai and Balasingham in their studies on the same period of British rule.

 The first copy of this novel will be presented to Omar Hassim a well-known philanthropist. Review of the book will be done by Nuwara Eliya District Member of Parliament M. Thilakarajah and literary luminaries like Telbedde S. Joseph President of the Up Country Writers Association, P.P.Devaraj former State Minster of Hindu Religious affairs and Journalist Antony Jeeva will grace the function.


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