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Saluting sons of soil, NRI Tamils in US adopt 103 farmers’ families

Call it the non-resident Tamilian’s love for his roots or philanthropy taking a new twist or, in a more present day parlance, a volunteer revolution in faraway New Jersey, but the moi virundhu (loosely translated as a fundraiser) that took place in New Jersey on May 21 in which 2,800 people of Tamil origin participated for the cause of drought-hit farmers of TN could be nothing but historic.

Saluting sons of soil, NRI Tamils in US adopt 103 farmers’ families
NRI Tamils gathered at the moi virundhu where a TN village thiruvizha had been recreated

The event was not a fundraiser but ended up achieving its objective when 103 farmers families in Tamil Nadu were adopted by US Tamils. It all started as a simple concept of organising a moi virundhu style event to gather help for the suffering farmers in Tamil Nadu. Soon, over 100 like-minded volunteers gathered as WhatsApp and Facebook groups. The mission was to recreate a TN village thiruvizha set-up and organise the moi virundhu with every minute detail taken care of.

Picture perfect Mittai store, Neer Pandhal, tea stall instilled a feeling of nostalgia into the hearts of techies who always missed being back home. Each participant was treated to a sumptuous meal on a banana leaf, well served by good-minded volunteers. There were large queues waiting and no one went hungry. They were not professional cooks or caterers; all were volunteers working like one large family.

There were cultural programmes too, with careful selection to represent the authentic art forms of Tamil Nadu like oyilattam, karagaattam, kaavadi attam, pinnal kolattam, paraiattam and what not. The morning events saw traditional Pongal and Mulaipaari events. “Besides being a fundraiser event, the day’s activities turned out to be a way to expose our next gen to the treasures of our roots,” said a volunteer. “The best part was the respect paid to our elders. Over 100 senior citizens were given dhoti and sarees and blessings were sought from them.” 

Even as these celebrations were in full swing, the information booth held formal presentations where slides and audio files explained to the audience the actual plight of Indian farmers. A detailed database on 103 individual farmers were collected and filed for ready reckoning. Interested people could adopt each one and individually contact them to find their needs and work out a financial plan to bail out the family. “There were long queues waiting to sign up more farmers families but our list had already run out,” said another volunteer at the information booth.

There was no pomp but only festivities and participants had great satisfaction of just not enjoying a good meal but had an opportunity to adopt an ailing farmer’s family. Although there was no claim of a name as to who organised this event, it was obviously an effort by volunteers among NRI Tamils who cared for their roots. 

Though there was no account of the number of hours or the dollars spent by each volunteer, the who’s who in the New Jersey Tamil community came under a single roof for the cause of the Tamil Nadu farmers in a distant land.

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