Thursday, September 10, 2009

What was Hindraf singing during their vigil?

Those of us who have seen the video of Hindraf's candle light vigil on 5/9/09, and the subsequent arrests by our police, would have heard the vigillers singing a song in Tamil, as they tried unsuccessfully to get to Dataran Merdeka. For the benefit of those of us who would like to understand what they were singing, and why, here is some info.

The title of the song is Tholvi nilayena ninaithaal, and it is from the 1986 movie Oomai Vizhigal. In the movie, politically connected thugs (who had earlier killed a journalist), destroy the printing press of a newspaper, in order to silence their investigative reporting. This song is what the editor sings to motivate his team after the attack. Here is a translation in English:

If we only dwell on on our defeated condition, how can we even hope of living?
If we consider this life a burden, isn't that trampling upon our mothers' dreams?

Having lost our rights, having lost our belongings, shall we give up our humanity too?
Being human, and still alive, how can we forget our dreams?

When dawn is about to break, why should our hearts be heavy?
When our hearts are full of courage, why should our eyes have tears?

Even if they oppose us, even if they spill our blood, can we ever change our path?
Our blood will only drive our fear away, then can our principles ever die?

Here is the song in full, as sung in the movie by P.B. Srinivas and Abavaanan:

Some people find that anything which is unfamiliar to them makes them uncomfortable; hence they become intolerant towards it. This is especially true if there are negative stereotypes and prejudices already associated with that particular community. People like blogger Dnightcaller even go so far as to call Hindraf "biadap" simply for choosing to sing a Tamil song.

I believe that if we take the trouble to understand our fellow humans better, we will find that they feel exactly what we feel, and that what they want for their children is exactly what we want for ours. However, we first need to get over our own prejudices and speak (and act) against the subtle (and often not so subtle) racism that our fellow Malaysians still suffer in our midst.

If you would like to join them in singing this song, here are the lyrics in Romanised Tamil.

Malaysian Heart

My gratitude to M.A. for providing the translation, and explaining its meaning to me.


  1. Very well written. I wish there were more people like you.

  2. Its absolute nonsense to suggest that all people want the same things for their children. This is especially so in Malaysia where children are too often the vehicles of their parent's obsessions. On too many occasions a child's childhood and its potential as a citizen of this country are victims of outdated concepts and constipated thinking both by parents and government

  3. Hi Anon 10:54,

    Thanks for your comment, makes it all worthwhile :-)

    Do drop by often,


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