Paamaalai – Celebrating Tamil language through Carnatic music

TFA Lalita Kala Company (Performing Wing of Temple of Fine Arts) presents Paamaalai – A celebration of Tamil Composers and Compositions. Paamaalai is a Carnatic music ensemble production which brings to light the rich history of the Tamil language through its inextricable relationship with Carnatic Music.

The syllable ‘Paa’ is an ancient Tamil term used to classify poetry, a structural representation of music itself. The word ‘Maalai’, meaning garland, is a symbol of the connectivity between the various eras, prominent Tamil composers and momentous compositions that have helped structure and define Carnatic Music, as the multi-faceted genre that it is today.

Paamaalai journeys through the history of Carnatic music, exploring compositions from Tamil poets who pay homage to Lord Murugan, who is believed to have been at the crux of the development and blossoming of Tamil language, literature and culture.

Harken back to the 7th century with Avvaiyaar and Arunagirinathar who created the masterpiece – the Thirupugazh, an anthology of poetic songs which is at once lyrical, rhythmic and alliterative, and deeply philosophical. We then explore how the language evolves with later Carnatic composers of the 1800s, Koteeswara Iyer, Papanasam Sivan and Subramania Bharathiyar, who removed the distance between the common people and the profoundly poetic Tamil language.

“We started work on Paamaalai all the way back in 2019 – it was meant to be staged in March 2020, but the early stages of the pandemic had just hit Singapore and we had to cancel the production at the time. Since then, we’ve been quietly continuing with the practice, refining the ideas and improving on the concept, all while keeping alive the hopes of one day bringing it to our audience. It’s been almost four years in the making, and we’re so happy to finally be able to share the beauty of the Tamil Language and Carnatic Music. We’re doing this through compositions that Tamil-speaking audiences would have known, or have heard around their house or at festivals, but may not have previously known or understood the depth of. We’re also sharing more about the composers and compositions themselves, for audiences from all walks of life to learn about how Tamil was brought to life in such a profound and beautiful way,” said Rajalakshmi Sekar, Artistic Director, Paamaalai and Senior Carnatic Vocal Faculty, Temple of Fine Arts.

“We want to showcase how this deep love and respect for Tamil has lived with composers who walked this earth centuries ago, and how it emerged as outpourings through their lyrics and compositions. Tamil music and culture has been here since the 5th century, and the fact that it continues to live and breathe with us through the Arts in this generation is something to be celebrated and cherished. Through productions like Paamaalai, we hope that it will continue to be passed on through the decades, for generations to come”, said Trivandrum D. Rajagopal, Senior Mridangam Faculty, Temple of Fine Arts.

Event Details
When: 30 April 2023, Sunday, 6.30pm
Where: Drama Centre Theatre, 100 Victoria St, #03-01 National Library, Singapore 188064
Admission: Invitations are available at Donations to support the arts are welcome, and graciously accepted.

TFA Lalita Kala Company

Established in 1981 by His Holiness Swami Shantanand Saraswathi, Temple of Fine Arts (TFA) celebrates four decades of making the Indian fine arts more accessible and relevant to a new generation. TFA is guided by its motto “Art, Just for the Love of It”, in every facet of its endeavours. TFA is currently located in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Bahru, Malacca, Perth, Colombo, Coimbatore, Chennai, Adelaide and Auckland.

TFA Lalita Kala Company (TFALKC) was started in 2004 as the performing arts wing of TFA. For over 35 years, TFALKC has produced a variety of shows with a focus on showcasing traditional Indian music and dance.

Having spearheaded the concept of large-scale productions in Singapore, TFALKC is constantly re-evaluating how it can transport audiences with immersive art experiences. We do not charge a fixed admission fee for all our productions as we want to share our passion for the arts, and believe in giving people from all walks of life access to the same. TFALKC has placed a greater emphasis on making the traditional art forms more accessible to both our local audiences, as well as to the younger generations.


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