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UNI

New York, Jun 26: Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss will formally inaugurate here a three-day annual convention of Tamils in North America, on July 1.

Consul General Neelam Deo will be present at the inauguration, according to a senior official of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, known as FeTNA.

No Minister from the Tamil Nadu government is expected to attend. However, Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi will send a special message for the event, called Thamizhar Thiruvizha (Tamil Festival), FeTNA Executive Committee member Prakash M Swamy said.

There will be a welcome reception at the Consulate General of India in New York on June 30 for Dr Ramadoss and other VIPs attending the convention. A business seminar for Tamil entrepreneurs, slated for July 2, will form part of the convention, whose venue is the sprawling Manhattan Center.

FeTNA officials told sources that there are at least 200,000 people of Tamil origin in North America, comprising the United States and Canada.

According to president of the convention committee Natarajan Rathnam, about 3,000 Tamils from across North America will attend the gala event.

Actor-turned-politician Sarath Kumar will be the chief guest. His wife Rathika Sarath Kumar, poet laureate Vairamuthu, poet Arivoli, one-legged dancer J Kutty, noted singer Vani Jayaram, speakers Ilanthai Ramaswami and Prof Gnanasambandan will participate in the convention.

Another VIP, who will be present is Padmini, a noted Bollywood actor of yesteryear.

After spending years in the United States, she will be returning to India for good.

FeTNA is a non-profit organization, set up to promote the language and culture in North America. The umbrella body was founded in 1987 with five 'Sangams' (associations) and today the body comprises 40 'Sangams'. One of its achievements was the establishment of a Tamil studies wing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Authentic Madras food will be served at the convention, according to former president of Federation of Indian Associations R Radhakrishnan, who is also connected to the present Tamil convention.

A youth forum, a seminar on ethnic media, a continuing medical education conference and a poetic gathering will be some of the programmes at the event, which is said to be the largest in the history of North American Tamils.

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