PERAMBALUR: It is the 80th death anniversary of Tamil scholar U Ve Swaminatha Iyer (U Ve Sa) today, an occasion for residents here to yet again collectively recollect with pride Thamizh Thatha’s years in the district. Having spent his early years receiving an education here, it is in the district where he also brought out his initial literary works as a teenager.
To keep him alive in the minds of residents is a group, largely comprising youngsters, which went on to set up a library in the scholar’s name a few years ago and has since been seizing every occasion to remember the tall figure.
U Ve Sa, who hails from Uthamadhanapuram in Tiruvarur district, arrived in Perambalur district as a 11-year-old. His father Venkatasubbaiyer, who was a musician for the Ariyalur Zamindar in 1854, landed at Kunnam in Perambalur with help from his friend after the former lost his job. During the period when
Venkatasubbaiyer’s family was suffering from penury, it was the locals at Kunnam who attended to them. U Ve Sa’s family resided in the village from 1866 to 1871.
U Ve Sa received elementary education at Karkudi and Sengunam. Showing a keen interest in Tamil language, he later approached Tamil scholar Meenakshisundaram Pillai in Mayiladuthurai for higher education.
The late Tamil scholar’s connection with Perambalur did not stop with that, as he returned to Kunnam and wrote 'Neeli Irattai Mani Malai' as a 19-year-old. U Ve Sa, however, is said to have not visited the district after that.
Jayapal Rathinam, a retired government employee who wrote a book on U Ve Sa’s connection with Perambalur, said that he learned of Thamizh Thatha’s stay in the district when he read the latter’s En Charithiram ten years ago. “His early life began in Kunnam. He recollects his life in Kunnam, and the help rendered by the locals in the book," he said.
"However, people of Kunnam don’t have enough awareness about him. Hence I wrote a book on him. I have also been celebrating his birth anniversary for a few years and have offered the books to the library built in his memory," he added.
To commemorate U Ve Sa, a group driven by youngsters set up U Ve Sa Makkal Padipagam, a library in the scholar’s name, at Karkudi in Kunnam taluk in 2019. The group has also been observing his birth and death anniversary since then by distributing saplings and cloth bags. They also hold various competitions to mark his anniversary.
R Ramesh, a youth from Karkudi, said, "U Ve Swaminatha Iyer's relatives still live here. To not forget him, we opened the library in his memory. It houses 2,500 books. Children to the elderly benefit from this and they learn about him.”