THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ever thought about the origin of place names in Kerala? Ever traced it to Tamil literature? If you do, you share a common chord with M. Nainar, a retired Tamil professor based in Thiruvananthapuram.
Because, that is exactly what he did at the first World Classical Tamil Conference being held in Coimbatore. His paper, 'Influence of Tamil in Kerala place names' traced the origin of Aranmula, Tiruvalla, Thrissur and, of course, Thiruvananthapuram to Sangam literature in Tamil.
"We could always find an association with Kerala and Tamil Nadu in many aspects. I chose this topic since it sounded interesting and informative," Nainar told Expresso over the phone from Coimbatore.
About 15 delegates from the city have been selected to present papers at the humongous event. A total of 1,000 papers are being presented in the conference which were selected from a total of 5,000 applicants.
The professors from the city believe it is their greatest fortune to have been able to participate in the conference.
"I just listened to a Tamil lecture by a Polish young man. I often closed my eyes as he spoke and I could feel the pure, fresh strain of Tamil," the excitement was palpable as Dr Vijayalaxmi, Tamil professor at University College here, spoke about how she was overwhelmed interacting with foreign scholars from all over the world.
"Here, every paper presentation is followed by discussions. It opens up a whole world of new ideas and concepts. It would have been a great loss if I had missed the opportunity," she said.
Her words sound true for Neela Padmanabhan, the eminent Tamil novelist based in the city who could not attend the prestigious event owing to ill health.
"I wish I were there. This conference is special since it is the first conference to be held after Tamil language was granted the classical status," he said.
The writer has been a regular participant in the conference over the years and really misses the sense of reunion. "For me, it is a kind of getting together with my old friends. It is one of those rare occasions I don't want to miss. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case this time."
The delegates from the city are making the most of the conference. "We have started collecting paper cuttings and supplements for our students. It has been a great exposure for us," they said.