Tamil

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Different from Bhojpur, Tamil is a Dravidian language rather than a Hindi language. Most Mauritian who speaks Tamil has an ancestry from the Tamil Nadu in southern India. Although they are constitutionally Hindus, but some of the Tamils believe that they have a separate ethnicity.

As the second largest Indo-Mauritian community, the Tamils in Mauritius made up 10% of the island's population in 2000. Although the language Tamil has been taught in Mauritius since 1839, only around 20% of the Tamil population (31,000 individuals) speak the language, despite the fact that it is taught at schools, Tamil temples and assoiciation, and with the support from the Mauritius government's policies which encourage multilingualism.  

Among the population who speaks Tamil, many of them use the language in particular contexts. While French and Morisyen are used commonly nationwide, the Tamil language is particularly used in sacred domains like such as in prayers or in the temples. The Tamil people believe their language is a way to communicate with the environment, and so even Morisyen, French and English can be used, the Tamils choose the Tamil language and give the other 3 languages a second place in religious domains. Tamil lexical items used in Mauritius include puujai arai (Prayer Hall), in which both the underlying cognitive concept and the word itself cannot be replaced by Morisyen, French or English.

With the original data obtained from a survey by Murugaiyan (1994), it proves that Tamil, except being used in religious domains, is also used in many other socio-cultural contexts,  and is especially important in passing cultural and moral values, as in rituals and ceremonies like weddings and funerals.  Tamil language is also widely used when they come to food, like rasam, a South Indian soup made with tomato, pepper and spices, in kavadi festival (also known as Thaipusam, in Tamil: தைப்பூசம் , in which people offer a kavadi - a burden - which is often pierced to their bodies, to the god) and clothing like the word choli (a midriff-baring blouse).

As the Tamil language is used particularly in cultural activities and traditional customs like the ones we have mentioned above, it is not difficult to understand the language can also help building up and maintaining solidarity among Tamil people. With the same group of lexical items the group often use, a sense of ethnic solidarity can be built up.

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* Rasam, a soup from South India


* Kavadi on a man during the Kavadi Festival

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* Choli, the midriff-baring top

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