India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947 after more than 200 years of British rule. The Fifteenth of August is a national holiday in India, and it is celebrated throughout the world by Indian immigrants.
Washington, D.C. has a large community of Indian immigrants from Tamil Nadu (தமிழ் நாடு) which is the seventh most populous state in India with over 66 million inhabitants. Although 88 percent of the population of Tamil Nandu practices Hinduism, the roots of Christianity in this region go back two thousand years. It is widely believed that St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ, was martyred in Mylapore, Chennai, and six percent of the population is Christian.
Even as Indian immigrants integrate into American society, they try to preserve their traditions and their culture. These pictures show a group of Indian Catholics celebrating India's Independence day with a Mass by Carmelite Father Russel Raj, followed by Indian music and a delicious buffet prepared by members of the congregation. The Tamil Catholic Association is trying to improve communication between its members to assure the continued prosperity of this community of expatriates.
The Tamil language was the first Indian language to be given classical status by the government of India in 2004. Tamil has the oldest extant literature among the approximately 85 languages, such as Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, that comprise the Dravidian family of languages spoken by around 200 million people. The earliest period of Tamil literature, Sangam literature, is dated from the 300 BCE to 300 CE. Although Tamil is spoken primarily by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent, it is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore.
The Tamil Sangam of Greater Washington is an association dedicated to the preservation of Tamil Indian culture. An exhibition of Tamil classical dance drama in August 2010 brought to Washington artistic groups from India and several other locations of the United States. The performance received great acclaim from hundreds of attendees.