[lg policy] India: Classical status for Malayalam cheered

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 25 14:30:04 UTC 2013

Classical status for Malayalam cheered
 City’s cultural organisations said the decision would help channelise
efforts to pool research on the language

It was a befitting end to a longstanding campaign for elevating Malayalam
to a classical language, say Malayalis in the city.

As news about the Union cabinet’s approval for the much-awaited
classification of the language spread, the diaspora rejoiced over the
decision and described it as “a long-due recognition”.

C.G. Rajendra Babu, former head of the Malayalam department, Madras
University, who was also part of the expert committee that recommended the
honour, said: “We have been expecting this for the past few months.
Malayalam that has a rich heritage of over 2,300 years of existence
deserves to be conferred the status of a classical language.”

Malayalam shares a common legacy with Tamil. It had met the criteria of
antiquity and literary tradition to be granted the status. This would help
in setting up a centre of excellence to conduct research on the antiquity
of Malayalam and its close affinity with Dravidian languages with the
Central government’s support, he said.

For many Malayalis who have made Chennai their home for decades now, it was
a day to celebrate. M. Nandagovind, president, Confederation of Tamil Nadu
Malayalee Associations, said, “It is an honour to the fraternity here. The
announcement has come at a time when we are reaching out to the younger
generation to learn the language through Malayalam Mission.”

Actor Jayaram said he was proud Malayalam had been given the status. “I
have always been passionate about elephants and ‘chendas’ (drums) — which
are closely knitted with Kerala culture. My children are also passionate
about Malayalam,” he said.

Members of cultural organisations in the city that had strived for the
honour said the announcement would help channelise the efforts of various
institutions to pool research on the language and pass on the rich legacy
to the younger generation. “One of the earliest references to the language
can be found in the edicts during emperor Ashoka’s era about 2,300 years
ago,” said S.S. Pillai, secretary general of Dakshina, a cultural
organisation in the city.



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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