Coimbatore: "The history of Tamil is India`s pride and respecting other religions is the Tamilian culture," said President Pratibha Patil as she inaugurated the World Classical Tamil Conference here Wednesday.
Speaking in the decked-up town around 510 km from Chennai, the president pointed out that Tamil was accorded the status of a classical language in 2004 due to its role as a carrier of great culture, not just because of its age and richness.
"The Tamil people have enriched cultural richness of the world and India," she told the thousands of delegates from India and abroad gathered for the five-day event.
She said the Tamil community fought for India`s freedom from British rule, with Tamil poets like Subramania Bharathiar and Bharathi Dasan penning poems that evoked patriotism among the people.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said Tamil was not only an international language, "it is like a mother for all the languages of the world".
"This World Classical Tamil Conference is different from the previous eight conferences. The three words -- World, Classical and Tamil -- not only contain a depth of meaning but also describe the conference," he said.
Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, President Patil gave away the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award to Finnish Tamil scholar Asko Parpola.