Introduction / History Tamil is one of the major languages of India and the 17th most spoken language in the world. Tamil is one of the oldest written languages with a history going back 3000 years. Tamil speakers are proud of their culture and literary tradition. Large populations of Tamils have left southern India and have come to live in over 20 nations. During the days of the British Empire many Tamils came to live in Australia. Many Tamils have lived in Australia for generations. While they speak fluent English, most still use Tamil as their family language.
What are their lives like? The Tamils in Australia have diverse lives. The educated ones have a middle or upper class lifestyle. They have taken advantage of Australia's education system and become professionals in business, trade, medicine, science, and in education. Recently arrived Tamils have a more difficult time finding jobs in order to meet the needs of their family. Many Tamils own and work in small businesses such as restaurants, retail and construction. The father is the head of the Tamil family. He shares leadership with his wife over the children. A woman has a higher place in the Tamil home than in most Asian cultures. Parents encourage their sons and daughters to excel in education and obtain college degrees. Tamils in Australia try to maintain their ethnic identity and at the same time become Australian citizens. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed in Western societies where children frequently choose their partner with their parents' guidance.
What are their beliefs? Though there are many Muslim and Christian Tamils, the majority practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Tamils visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians or Jews. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The main yearly holidays of the Tamil people are Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.
What are their needs? The Tamils in Australia must understand that Jesus is not only the Lord and Savior of Australians. Jesus is the Tamils' Lord and Savior too. Newly arrived Tamils have needs for housing, jobs and schooling that Australian believers can help meet. Showing practical love to the Tamils will draw them to the Savior.
Prayer Points Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Australian Tamils in this decade. Pray the Lord moves believers and churches in Australia to reach out and share the good news with the Tamils. Pray that more Christian literature and videos becomes available in the Tamil language.