Tamil in the temples - Language and religious maintenance beyond the first generation

Nirukshi Michelle Perera

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12 Citations (Scopus)


This study builds on research into the influence of religion on migrant language maintenance in Australia. In the case of Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus, previous studies have found that religious devoutness has a positive influence on the maintenance of Tamil in the home domain. In the religious domain, an ideology which links the Tamil language to the Tamil Hindu (Saiva) religion works in favour of maintaining Tamil in temple spaces in Australia. However this language-religion ideology is challenged by observations that, for the second generation Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu migrants growing up in Australia, a shift to English and disengagement from the religion is occurring. Through interviews with the leaders of three Tamil Hindu temples, I investigate the roles of different languages in the temples and ask whether the temples are contributing to Tamil language maintenance in the religious domain for the second generation. This paper highlights some of the issues faced by temples in engaging young generations in their heritage language and religion; as well as ways that temples are adapting, in a Western setting, in order to establish the religion for the long-term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-559
Number of pages25
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Tamil
  • Hindu temple
  • religion
  • migrant
  • language maintenance
  • Sri Lanlca

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