Nala: In Search of a Way


Bound within two units in a strip of industrial warehouses, the Hindu temple of my youth is a compromise of the ancient to the Canadian. A temple birthed by necessity, it exists in a state of purgatory, doomed to be abandoned for its purpose-built replacement. But this story of assimilation is complicated by an architectural model that rests at its entrance foretelling an alternate fate. With walls devoid of compromise, mirroring its predecessors of antiquity, this miniature depicts the very temples its Eelam Tamil patrons were once forced to flee. This model was sculpted as a promise for the future, but I argue that this tool acts also as a gateway to the past. And by using this artifact to decipher the temple’s purpose, this body of work unknowingly unravelled the second-generation Eelam Tamil-Canadian’s conception of home. Inspired by Hindu and Tamil storytelling, this investigation is disseminated as an epic, told in three parts where the reader follows Nala. A second-generation youth, poached from his world by a Goddess, Nala treks a fantastical land in search of an escape. In the course of his exile, Nala navigates conflicting signs of home, while confronting his temple, childhood protests, and the war on memory in post-war Sri Lanka. The youth learns through pilgrimage and a cast of imperfect characters, how the warmth of his coveted home is intertwined with that of his temple’s. The story of Nala will unearth the potential of the HinduCanadian temple for the second-generation Eelam TamilCanadians held captive by the question of home.

The examining committee is as follows:
Supervisor: Robert Jan Van Pelt
Committee member: Jaliya Fonseka
Internal-external reader: Anwar Jaber
External: Nedra Rodrigo

The defence examination will take place:
Friday, April 26, 2024, 1:00 p.m.
In person, in the Photo Studio.
A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.