ALL THAT IS HISTORY MN PATHER
Institutions to promote, language, religion, fine arts, philosophy, ethics, etc., from the elementary to a highly advanced plane are typical of a civilized society evolving within an ethnic group. The institutions established by the Tamil community in the Durban area at the beginning of the present century are outstanding examples of such propensity. Men with fortitude, vision and an insatiable urge for development and expansion of all s\associated cultural aspirations founded the two influential and well recognized bodies, the Young Men’s Vedic Society and the Hindu Tamil Institute in the years 1905 and 1914 respectively. The officials and members of the two bodies are still held in great reverence by the community for the ardour evinced as readily as possible in the propagation, maintenance and expansion of cultural traits of the Hindus in general and the Tamils in particular with the available resources in this country.
Prompted by foresight and experience in the passage of time some of the enlightened members of both the bodies realized that instead of revolving on two different orbits to achieve their goal, common to both, a combined approach under a single banner would be admirably appropriate for effectiveness and greater scope for activities. The thought undoubtedly was an excellent one and in conformity with what KANIAN POONGUNRANAR asserted in PURANANOOR at about 2000 years ago when he said, ”YATHUM, OORAY, VAVARUM KELIR” meaning that the land is common to all and are kith and kin. In consequence representatives from the two bodies met at the residence of the late A.M. Padayachee in Durban north on 23 June 1951. The outcome of that meeting was of historic importance as the signatories intended to give rise to a major organisation for the promotion of cultural needs. The mutual agreement reduced to writing at Durban, on the 23 June 1951 read:
“We the undersigned being the officials of the Hindu Tamil Institute and the Young Men’s Vedic Society are firmly convinced that it would be in the best interest of the Natal Tamil community for both the organisations to amalgamate under a new designation mutually acceptable to the members and under a common constitution. It is agreed that both the organisations shall convene their respective general meetings with a view to resolving upon the amalgamation. For the purpose of a\carrying the object of the aforesaid amalgamation; of deciding upon a suitable designation for the amalgamated body; of framing a common constitution for the new body, it is hereby agreed that the following form a sub-committee Messrs RB Chetty, AM Padayachee, MY Nainaar, CJ Pather and PR Pather and Messrs T Naicker, GB Chetty, CG Chetty. TS Pillay and RK Chetty as representing the Hindu Tamil Institute and the Young Men’s Vedic Society. It is agreed that the whole of the work connected with the amalgamation should be completed within a period of thirty days from date. It is further agreed that Messrs. PR Pather and CG Chetty shall be the Convenors of sub-committee.”
DATED AT DURBAN THIS 23 JUNE 1951
After a meticulous and fruitful discussion the vital decision to forge ahead with the proposed amalgamation was taken. The Committee which was formed with that purpose in mind under the Chairmanship of the late RB Chetty proved its responsibility by convening the Inaugural meeting successfully on the 16th September 1951 when the following resolution was passed: “ That this meeting of the Foundations Members, Ordinary members, Honorary Life members of the Hindu Tamil Institute and of the Young Men’s Vedic Society held in Durban on Sunday 16th day of September 1951, hereby resolves to amalgamate under the designation of the Natal Tamil Vedic Society.”
The Amalgamation Sub-Committee did an excellent piece of work and a paragraph appearing in its report amplifies it sufficiently:
“The Committee desires to place on record that throughout the negotiation the Hindu Tamil Institute and the Young Men’s Vedic Society to bring about the amalgamation there has been complete accord among the Officials of the two bodies. We are happy to record also that the members of the amalgamation Sub-committee were imbued with a keen desire to bring about the establishment of one central body representing the Tamil community of Natal. The amalgamation will be a milestone in the history of the Tamil people in this Province, and it is sincerely hoped that this achievement will enhance our status and would be the means of doing very good for the upliftment of our people.”
The first Officials of the newly formed Natal Tamil Vedic Society were:
HONORARY LIFE PRESIDENTS: The late Messrs TM Naicker and RB Chetty,
HONORARY LIFE VICE-PRESIDENTS: The late Messrs GB Chetty, MY Nainaar, SR Pather and TS Pillay and Mr. CG Chetty,
PRESIDENT: the late Mr. AM Padayachee,
CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL: The late Mr. GB Chetty,
VICE PRESIDENTS: the late Messrs AS Pather, SS Pather, ND Pather and RK Pather and Mr. KR Pillay.
HONORARY GENERAL SECRETARY: Mr. CG Chetty,
HONORARY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: Mr. CJ Pather,
HONORARY TREASURER: The late Mr. MY Nainaar,
ASSISTANT TREASURER: MK Bobby Padayachee,
TRUSTEES: the late Messrs Dayanand Koopie Murrie (Life Trustee) RB Chetty, AM Padayachee, TM Naicker, and GB Chetty,
MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL: the late Messrs CK Vandayar, KC Pillay, PS Kander, WG Pather, PY Pather, Agambaram Pillay, PA Naidoo, GM Nair, S Morgan and Messrs. R Karthigasen Chetty, VS Govender, SA Pather, AK Pillay, CTS Padiatchy and JB Chetty.
The personnel of the newly constituted body realized the importance of tackling the cultural and social needs of the community with unprecedented vigour. The mode of approach, it is heartening to note, was traditional. It was really a three prong approach to ensure success and unmistakably they were the three concepts EDAM (a place for centralizing activities) PORUL (wealth, material and intellectual) and YAVAL (the operative phase of the plans finalized or conceived. The site owned by the Society at the corner of Carlisle and Albert Streets was ideally suited for the project. A three-storeyed structure with all the conveniences was envisaged, though a costly and ambitious venture, the Society was nevertheless confident that the community would respond magnanimously if convincingly approached. The Council members themselves paved the way by setting a glorious example contributing an amount of R6000.(3,000). The tireless collection consisting of the late Messrs. PR Pather, TS Pillay, MY Nainaar and Messrs KR Pillay, CG Chetty and AR Naidoo spared no effort in prevailing upon the potential upon the potential donors not only in this province, but also in the Transvaal and as well as in the Cape. On their return they brought back a handsome R82 000 (£41 000). The project inclusive of equipment and fittings aggregated to R102 000 (£51 000).
The Building Sub-Committee with Mr. KR Pillay as Chairman and the late Messrs PR Pather, TS Pillay, MY Nainaar, MK Padayachee, CK Vandayar, DK Naidu, TM Naicker, KC Pillay and Messrs CG Chetty and AR Naidoo attended to the details involved in the completion of the building. Today it exhibits some sterling features and it could be affirmed that it is probably one of the best built project for our community in this country. There are three self-contained halls, one above the other, to provide for the community in particular with a centre that is a veritable meeting place for religious, educational and social functions. The total cost of the construction, equipment furniture and furnishings amounted to R150 000 and the Society owed R54 000 under a first mortgage bond over the property, a loan placed by the late Mr. PR Pather with the South African Permanent Building Society.
The centre, popularly known as the Vedic Hall, is known throughout the Republic and abroad. At one stage, because of a difference in opinions, the Society received unfavourable publicity in a weekly newspaper by a person who received help from the person he was attacking. But the ardent Vice-president, Mr. RS Pather notwithstanding his confinement in bed successfully began a campaign and the rebuttal, published in the “Truth” magazine finally paid dividends for the Society. With time on his side Mr. RS Pather later took the important seat – Chairman of the Council. After a short term the ever pursuing and forthright RS decided to go abroad and although Mr. RP Moodley also held that position for a short period it is Mr. Pavadai R Pather who had held the reigns from the year 1971. When the Presidency moved from Mr. KR Pillay to Mr. CG Chetty, the latter since 1972 occupied this prestigious position.
From 1951 and more especially 1957 the role of the Society in nearly all cultural matters has been a demanding one. It has been also called upon to express opinions on matters affecting people of South Indian origin, Tamils in particular. It has found a place among the higher echelons and has been required to be involved and to commit itself. Realizing the task ahead, to be authorative and responsible, council for the past three years, discussed the formation of a Trust so that the assets to the approximate value of R750 000 may be safeguarded and form a body truly provincial. And today we have provided for this.