Tamils in France

Tamils in France
Ganesh Paris 2004 DSC08471.JPG
Religious Procession of Tamils in Paris
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Tamil, French, English
Hinduism, Catholicism, Islam

Tamils in France refer to the citizens as well as expatriate residents of Tamil origin living in France. Over 100,000 Tamils[2][3] from both India and Sri Lanka live in France. This is in addition to the Tamil community established in French overseas dominions of Réunion, Martinique, French Guiana etc.

History [ edit ]

The earliest Tamil immigration into France can be traced back to since the 17th Century, from the French-administered colony of Puducherry in India. A large number of them hailing from middle-class families who joined the French government on service.

The later arrivals were mostly Tamils from Sri Lanka, who fled the country during the violence in 1983 and the Civil War that succeeded it.[4] Today, there are about 50,000 Sri Lankan Tamils living in France, of which the greatest number live in Paris.

The Parisian Tamil community was fairly dispersed and disorderly until 1991, when Paris-based Tamils began to form tightly-knit networks centred in the northern reaches of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis. Tamil-owned businesses appeared in great numbers seemingly overnight, while the colorful Chariot Festival, a tribute to the Hindu elephant god Ganesha, has become a popular annual procession eagerly anticipated by thousands of Parisians. There are Tamil newspapers, a radio station, and a website dedicated to Paris' residents.

Various social and political organisations supporting the Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism exist among the Tamil community in France. The Tamils in France were a part of the larger protests by the Tamil diaspora against the Sri Lankan state at the closure of the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 which was seen as an alleged war crime during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War in the island.[5][6]

Culture [ edit ]

Language [ edit ]

Apart from speaking Tamil their native language, most of the Tamils are fluent speakers of English due to their British colonial past. Many of the early migrants had struggled to find work and higher education due to their relatively lesser understanding of the French. As a result, many of them have taken up free and paid classes to learn French. A critical demand is that the French government create special work-training programs designed to orient refugees from different fields.

The Tamil community preserve their culture by creating special schools for children. Today there are ten or eleven active branches in Paris and in the suburbs (banlieue). In these weekend classes, children are taught Tamil, traditional music and dance, and religion.[4]

Religion [ edit ]

A majority of the Tamil French population are Hindus, and a significant number of them have faith in Christianity and Islam as well.[2]

Little India [ edit ]

The Parisian quarter of La Chapelle, a stone’s throw from Le Gare du Nord is popularly known as “Little India”. Centring on three of four streets where the famous Ganesh Festival and its crowd drawing processions of dancers, rituals and floats has been celebrated at the end of August each year since the late 1990s the quarter is thriving and undeniably Indian. The visitor will notice a wide variety of stores, restaurants and businesses catering to Paris’ South Asian communities; there are numerous boutiques selling saris, Punjabi suits and roles of cloth; restaurants specialising in Gujarati, Tamil and Sri Lankan cuisine, halal butchers and spice stores; there are shops selling models of Hindu, Buddhist and Christian deities; trinkets and jewellery for all tastes and wallets – bangles for one Euro, rings for a thousand; all tastes in Indian film and music are catered for in various media outlets and many less stand -out stores, offering translation, visa, educational and other services also line the streets.[7]

Little Jaffna [ edit ]

Tamil dancers take part in the May day rally in Paris, 2010

In only 10 years, "Little Jaffna", located at the last stretch of the winding street of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis in the 10th arrondissement, between metros Gare de Nord and La Chapelle, has sprung to life and begun to truly flourish. Majority of the residents fled Sri Lanka in the 1980s, which saw the beginning of the country's civil war. It is commonly mistakenly called by the average Parisian as Little Bombay. Little Jaffna is also famous for the annual chariot procession held during Ganesha Chathurthi. Both the area and event have become popular tourist attractions. Little Jaffna is a thriving village in its own right, offering a kind of cultural richness that seems curiously preserved from French influence.

Notable people [ edit ]

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ ""World Tamil Population",
  2. ^ a b ""History of the Tamil Diaspora by V. Sivasupramaniam",
  3. ^ "WSWS speaks to Tamil immigrants and refugees in France". World Socialist Website. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Little Jaffna: Asian community corner of Paris, France". Tamil Electronic Library - K. Kalyanasundaram. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Tamils join French May Day protest". NDTV. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  6. ^ "France: Tamils arrested in protest against Sri Lankan mass killings". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Indians in France : a Study"(PDF). 26 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
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