Welcome to Tamil Cholai, Singapore’s largest collection of Tamil reading material for all

Singapore, 16 April 2022 - Comprising more than 20,000 Tamil material, including translated works in English for everyone to enjoy.


Titled Tamil Cholai which means Tamil Garden, Singapore’s largest Tamil literary collection of more than 20,000 items is now available to the public at the Woodlands Regional Library.


Minister for Communications and Information, Mrs Josephine Teo, launched the new collection today, which is housed in a dedicated space at the library. Comprising contemporary works and classical texts, it is an enhanced and expanded version of NLB’s existing Tamil collection. While most of the items are in the Tamil language, there are also about 1,000 specially-curated works in English, Chinese and Malay so that anyone who is keen to learn more about Indian arts, culture and traditions can access the material. This includes works such as poetry translated from Tamil, as well as works written in English, Chinese and Malay on topics such as travel, history, and politics.


Besides promoting literary works by Singapore writers and non-fiction works on Singapore, Tamil Cholai will also highlight award-winning titles and ancient Tamil works in modern Tamil. Apart from the collection, NLB will organise reading programmes to cultivate a greater understanding and appreciation for Singapore’s multicultural society to complement the Tamil Cholai collection. More information on the programmes can be found here: https://go.gov.sg/tamilcholaiprogrammes.


Minister Teo also announced today a partnership between NLB and the Centre for Singapore Tamil Culture, to develop an online Encyclopaedia on Singapore Tamils. It will be a record of Tamil life and history in Singapore. More details will be shared when ready.


The space housing Tamil Cholai has been co-developed with staff and students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, who have designed murals that make the space more colourful and cozy. A few highlights to look out for are:


a. Special showcase of the Tamil classic Thirukkural. This work has often been considered to be one of earliest ever written on ethics and morality. This section will feature couplets, written in English that are based on the Thirukkural. There is also a manuscript of the text written on a palm leaf.


b. Specially-curated exhibition “Kuralgal - Voices of Singapore Tamils”. This exhibition features seminal Tamil literary works from the 19th century to the present, reflecting the unique concerns, outlook, and aspirations of the Tamil community in Singapore through the decades.


c. Other artefacts significant in Indian culture and traditions. Patrons can view the Pallanguzhi, a traditional game that aims to improve math and motor skills. They can also admire a collection of handmade dancing dolls designed to represent traditional dance forms such as Bharatanatyam.

Building up the collection of Tamil reading materials and making them easily accessible is part of NLB’s LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint) to create a more robust Learning Marketplace.


NLB Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Cher Pong, said: “Tamil Cholai is a treasure trove of books, stories and other materials which NLB would like to share with our patrons as part of LAB25. Through the expanded collection, we hope to add on to the Learning Marketplace we are constructing so that our patrons can learn and read more with us, and gain a deeper understanding of our multi-cultural heritage. We look forward to more patrons visiting the Woodlands Regional Library and enjoying the collection.”


The launch of Tamil Cholai is one of the highlights of the Tamil Language Festival 2022, organised by the Tamil Language Council. Featuring more than 40 programmes, the Festival which runs till 1 May 2022 brings the community together to celebrate and promote the Tamil language in Singapore. More information on the Festival can be found here: www.tamil.org.sg.


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