A 15 year old Canadian Eelam Tamil singer, Jessica Judes, stunned audiences of the widely popular Tamil Nadu singing competition - Super Singer Junior on Saturday, singing a song dedicated to the Eelam Tamil people.
Judges, audiences at the live event, and viewers around the world were left speechless and many in tears after tuning in to watch her heartwrenching combination two songs associated with the Eelam Tamil struggle: 'Tholvi Nilayena' and 'Vidai Kodu' at the competition's season 4 finals.
'Super Singer' which is aired lived on the Indian TV channel, Vijay TV, allows viewers to vote live via telephone or internet. Winning the highest number of votes from viewers, Jessica went on to win second place in the final.
In a humbling gesture, Jessica donated her prize of 1kg of gold bar (currently, approximately US $ 40,000), to Eelam Tamil children suffering from the conflict, and an orphanage in Tamil Nadu that she visited frequently whilst living there over the past year.
Given a special welcome by the hosts as the first Eelam Tamil to make it to the finals, Jessica said: "I am dedicating the song I am about to sing to Eelam Tamil people."
Jessica received a rapturous applause, with the judges - the music director, Shankar Mahadevan, the singer, Mano (real name - Nagoor Babu) and the Kollywood actor, Dhanush -giving her standing ovation along, with many in the audience, including the famous female singer, K S Chithra, as well as the singer Malgudi Subha and the actress Dhivya Dharshini.
Asking the judges to comment, the host said: "You have given a healing balm to many tens of thousands of Eelam Tamils who have lost their land and have an unhealed wound."
Passing the microphone to Mano, Shankar said he was unable to speak: "actually.. same like Dhanush.. not able to.. we are full of emotions.. so I'd like to give it to [Mano]"
"Definitely, you have truly gained the many blessings of many hearts, not just here, but those watching via TV sets around the world. God bless you!" said Mano, as Shankar nodded.
Given the microphone last, Dhanush said, "Tamils will be very proud today thinking of you."
"In my view there is only one type of Tamils.. only one Tamil.. Everyone is 'Tamil'," he added, prompting cheers and a wild applause from the live audience.
"You have used the power of music to express an agony, a pain, a distressed cry."
"You don't realise how important an act you have done," said Dhanush. "God bless you."
Jessica was also praised by one of the singers who sang in 'Vidai Kodu' who happened to be in the audience sat behind the judges, Manikka Vinayagam.
"How ever many times I hear this song.. who ever listens to it, from what ever corner of the world.. this song is a beautiful song that can melt your heart," Mr Vinayagam said.
"Listening to the expression in Jessica's voice, which I cannot fault even in the slightest, I only want to cry, I do not want to say anything else. The words are not coming," he adding, stating it was a privilege that he would not forget as long as he lived to have sung 'Vidai Kodu' with the acclaimed singer, M S Viswananthan.
"I wish you a long life, and that you will go on to achieve many more things too. I have a duty to praise you on behalf of all Eelam Tamils, diaspora Tamils, and all Tamils living across the world. All the best!"
The fusion of the two songs provided an alternating blend between the agony of suffering with hope and courage to continue one's struggle.
'Vidai Kodu', sung by the world renowned music director, A R Rahman, for the 2002 film about the suffering of the Eelam Tamils 'Kannathil Muthamittal', describes the uprooting of Eelam Tamils from their homeland, asking when will they see freedom.
'Tholvi Nilayena', famously sung by P.B. Srinivas after a long gap in his career, was sung for the 1986 film, 'Oomai Vizhigal'. Although the film 'Oomai Vizhigal' was not about the struggle of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or any other Tamil militant group, many believe that this song was written with the Tamil Eelam freedom fighters and the struggle in mind, providing inspiration and motivation even at the brink of defeat. See more here.
The opening lines of 'Tholvi Nilayena', which Jessica also used as a her opening and as an effective chorus in between stanzas of 'Vidai Kodu', ask:
"If one believes that defeat is permanent, how can you face life? Thinking of life as a burden, would you destroy your forefather's dreams? We lost our rights and our possessions but can we loose our spirit too?"
"A new beginning is not far off so why is your heart still heavy with sorrow? You are bravery personified and yet your eyes are filled with tears."
Jessica, who is Canadian Tamil, was also warmly wished by the Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance (CTYA), a network of university Tamil societies.
"Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance wishes Jessica Judes all the best in Super Singer Jr Finale. Her dedication to Eelam Tamils through her performance was truly soulful."