Tamils form the third largest ethnicity in the beautiful island city of Singapore. The indigenous populace of Singapore and Tamizhians share a long and beautiful history. Among the first to settle in this unchartered frontier were the mighty Cholas of Tamilnadu. In 1025 AD, Rajendra Chola, the famous Tamil King, led an expedition and established the first Tamil rule after defeating the Hindu empire of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia and Indonesia). There are a lot of resources available online on the Chola invasion of Srivijaya and to cover the event and its subsequent consequences will be beyond the scope of the blog.
The name Singapore is however Malay and Sanskrit. ‘Singa’ in Malay means ‘lion’ (also from the Sanskrit ‘Simha’ meaning lion) and ‘pura’ means city, thus giving the famous nickname ‘the Lion City’. The later Tamil rulers set up a number of small lion towns such as Singampunari. In fact, there are quite a number of places in South East Asia whose names are a derivative of Sanskrit or other Indian languages.
In the 18th century, both Singapore and India came under various colonial powers including the British and French. Britain even used Singapore as its central Asian trading port to control things in India. Thus, this resulted in the influx of many traders and labourers into Singapore, mostly from Tamilnadu. Tamizhians, known for their seafaring skills, since the ancient times, made the most of the opportunity offered by the British. These sea merchants who immigrated to the island country in large numbers later formed the second largest minority and gave it one of the most significant cultural identities.
The greatness of the Lion city, as Singapore is called, found its way into the hearts of Tamizhians through Tamil movies, especially in the 1970’s and 80’s, starred by popular movie stars Rajinikanth and Kamal Hasan. Right, how many of you have listened to this timeless song “Akkarai Seemai Azhaginile” from the movie ‘Priya’ (released in 1978) that was composed by Illayaraja? Enjoy, until then it is bye from our team.