Renowned Tamil Eelam playback singer and musician Rameswaran Varnakulasingam (popularly known as ‘Varna Rameswaran’) passed away in Canada last month, after contracting COVID-19.
Varna passed away on 25th September 2021, at the age of 52.
Varna was known for lending his voice for Tamil Eelam patriotic songs, particularly ‘Thayaka Kanavudan’ which is authored by Tamil Eelam revolutionary poet Puthuvai Ratnathurai and played annually at every Maaveerar Naal event, as candles and lamps are being lit. "To those sandalwood caskets who embraced death, dreaming of the motherland," Varna sings in the chorus. "Can you hear our humming cries here?". His other notable songs include “Thaayaka Mannin Kaatre” from the album Karumpulikal, “Puram Ondru Thinam Paadum” from the album Vizhithezhuvom, and the baila-influenced song “Appukaami Petredutha” from the album Poonagari Nayagan.”
Alongside patriotic songs, he has also sung devotional songs. He lent his voice for the devotional album “Nallai Murugan Paadalgal” which was published by the Arts and Culture Division of the LTTE in 1994, featuring songs composed by ‘Isaivaanar’ Kannan and written by Puthuvai Ratnathurai. His other devotional work is the album “Thisaiyengum Isaivellam”, which features songs composed by Varna Rameswaram himself with lyrics written by Puthuvai Ratnathurai, praising the glory of various Saiva temples in Eelam. These devotional songs are regularly featured during temple festivals in the Tamil homeland and in the diaspora.
Born to a family of musicians in Siruvilan, Alaveddy in Jaffna, he learnt Carnatic singing, mridangam and harmonium from his father ‘Kalabhushanam’ ‘Sangeetharatnam’ Murugesu Varnakulasingam and his mother Maheswary.
He studied at Tellippalai Mahajana College and also participated in island wide music competitions and won first place and gold medals during his school days. He also graduated with a Diploma in Music, obtaining the title ‘Isaikkalaimani’ from the University of Jaffna, where he subsequently served as a lecturer in the Faculty of Music for 4-5 years.
He performed at events broadcasted by the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation, and received accolades and appreciation for his live vocal performances all over Tamil Nadu.
Varna Rameswaran conducted workshops and training for music and dance teachers in the homeland and in the diaspora. He founded ‘Varnam School of Music’ and ‘Varnam Creations’ in Canada with the aim of educating the second generation on Carnatic music.
He also participated as a judge during the 2017 ‘IBC Thamizha’ event in Wembley in London, alongside South Indian playback singers Srinivas and Malgudi Subha and music director D. Imman.
Since his passing tributes have flooded in for the singer from across the globe.
Varna Rameswaran leaves behind his wife, a son and a daughter and a generation of Eelam Tamils who grew up listening to his music.