‘Ilam Kaatru’ (‘Youth Wind’), the Tamil Youth Organisation’s (TYO) annual talent show returned after a two year gap on March 12 to wow the audience with an evening of dance, music and other entertainment.
Group and solo performances by youngsters and youth ranging from primary school students to university undergraduates celebrated the Tamil nation and its diverse and evolving cultural heritage.
The event at the packed Greenford Town Hall began with the traditional lighting of the lamp, by representatives of the Tamil Chamber of Commerce.
The audience and performers then rose in unison to pledge continued commitment to the political struggle for independence, and to observe a commemorative silence to remember the lives lost to Sri Lanka’s oppression.
The evening was hosted by comedian ‘Kutti Hari’, a rising Diaspora celebrity whose popularity in Europe has soared in recent years. His banter produced roars of laughter, punctuating the performances which included ‘Koothu’ dance, Tamil cinema-style choreography, contemporary street dance and routines inspired by traditional African movements.
A satirical fashion show displaying everyday Tamil clothing modernized with accessories was one of the night’s more quirky, if well received, acts.
Two young artists delivered a dazzling bharathanatyam performance set to a song hailing the innate connection between the Tamil people, their homeland and cultural practices.
A drama performance illustrating the key role youth play in the Tamil struggle for freedom also drew enthusiastic applause.
One young lady stunned the audience into pin drop silence with beautiful solo renditions of well known Tamil cinema songs.
“Tonight’s event is a celebration of Tamil youth culture,” a TYO spokesperson told Tamil media. “We are a community with a global presence, and it’s youth who best reflects that blend of tradition and modern, Tamil and international.”
The event was addressed by Stephen Pound MP (Labour, Ealing North) who gave an impassioned account of his solidarity with the Tamils’ cause.
He express his sorrow at what the Tamil people had endured, and admiration for their resilience and their determination. “What we see here tonight is the future…I don’t see people who have lost anything,” he said.
He also endorsed the ‘Boycott Sri Lankan Cricket’ campaign that TYO is launching, noting how England has in the past ceased playing teams representing repressive countries. He also signed the petition being organised to the English Cricket Board (pictured right).
During the interval, the audience flocked to the later sold out food stall serving traditional Tamil delicacies, and the stalls selling Tamil Eelam merchandise.
TYO did not hold the event in 2009 and 2010, as its membership focused on protests and other activities highlighting the Sri Lankan military’s massacres of Tamil civilians in the closing months of the war.