Introduction / History The homeland of the Tamil people is southeast India. Tamil is one of the major languages of India and the 17th most spoken language in the world. Tamils are proud of their cultural and literary heritage that dates back over 2000 years. Many thousands of Tamils left India and live in dozens of countries throughout the world including the USA. Many migrated to the USA as professionals during the last half of the 20th century. These include physicians, scientists, university professors, software engineers, and financiers. The mother of Vice President Kamala Harris is of Tamil origin. The three largest populations of Tamils living in the USA are New York City, New Jersey and Los Angeles. A small fraction of the Tamils in the USA has become followers of Christ.
What are their lives like? The Tamils who have come to the USA are a diverse group. The highly educated ones such as physicians and computer experts work the same jobs they did in India or Sri Lanka. They were upper class people in their country of origin and they fit into the high income bracket in the USA. Middle class Tamils come to the USA looking for better lives for their children. They often work in restaurants, retail, information technology, finance and trade. Their children attend American public schools. Their children also attend Tamil-Hindu schools on Saturday to practice their family language and learn parents' faith. 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 and Middle Eastern cultures. Tamils in USA try to maintain their ethnic identity and at the same time become model American citizens. In traditional Tamil culture, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This practice has changed in modern society where children frequently choose their partner with their parents' guidance. Parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their religion and people group. Many Tamil young people in the USA marry outside their people and religion.
What are their beliefs? The large majority of Tamils in USA practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. The patron god of the Tamils is Murugan, the Hindu god of war. Hindus 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 as Christians do with their heavenly Father. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The Hindu faith of many American Tamils is more cultural than theological. The main yearly holidays of the Hindu 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. The Tamils in the USA also frequently celebrate Christian holidays. The Tamil New is celebrated on April 14.
What are their needs? The Tamils in the USA need to understand that material success will not bring them the happiness they are seeking. Jesus Christ is much more than a Hindu god or guru. Only through Christ can a Tamil receive the forgiveness of his or her sins and the gift of eternal life.
Prayer Points Pray the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Tamils in the USA in this decade. Pray the Lord moves American believers and churches to reach out and share the good news with the Tamils. Pray that more Christian literature, internet material and videos are read and heeded by Tamil speakers. Ask God to bring American Tamil leaders and heads of families into His kingdom.