Maaveerar Naal (Great Heroes’ Day) is a day of remembrance commemorated by Sri Lankan Tamils to remember the deaths of militants fighting for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). On November 27th, 1989, the first Maaveerar Naal was held, the date – November 27th – was chosen to mark the anniversary of the death of the first LTTE cadre, Lt. Shankar (Sathiyanathan alias Suresh), in combat in 1982. Traditionally, oil lamps are lit for three days culminating on November 27th, and the Tamil Eelam flag is raised during festivities. Maaveerar Naal’s symbol is the Gloriosa superba, a flowering plant also known as a flame lily or climbing lily that blooms in November. On November 27, 1989, over 600 LTTE cadres gathered secretly in the jungles near Nithikaikulam in Manal Aru, Mullaitivu District, to memorialise their fallen comrades, who numbered roughly 1,300 at the time.
In his speech, LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran informed the audience that they must kill him if he ever betrayed Tamil Eelam. Following the evacuation of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1990, the LTTE took control of significant areas of land in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The LTTE began planning ways to honour its fallen heroes. The week before Maaveerar Naal was proclaimed Great Heroes’ Week in 1991. As a result, Prabhakaran’s birthday was included in the celebrations.
Recently, thousands of Tamils gathered across the Tamil homeland to mark Maaveerar Naal. Not only did this event take place in Sri Lanka, but many Eelam Tamils gathered together in France, the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and many more to pay their respects to fallen cadres.
Around last week, to mark Maaveerar Naal, British Tamil activists organised a boat to send a memorial message. The boat passed through Westminster, carrying the Tamil Eelam flag, a karthigaopoo (National Flower of Tamil Eelam), and the message “we remember.”