Tribute to Ainkaran – A Unique Artist from Tamil Eelam


by ILankai Tamil Sangam, October 2016

Sivaaingaran Chelvadurai, a tech-supervisor turned impressive stage singer, who performed on equal footing with renowned playback singers over three decades and who was born and raised in Tamil Eelam, emerging from a family of social activists and intellectuals, passed away at age 55 in Columbia, Tennessee, USA.

Ainkaran-Youth-toAdultUltimate cause of death was kidney failure resulting from treating a rare disease called amyloidosis.    The disease produces an unusual protein that accumulates in various organs causing them to become less effective over time. It affects about 0.0003% of Americans. The disease is not curable but could have been managed without life threatening consequence if it had been identified early on, according to his supportive brother Shanmugabaskaran of Chicago.  Ainkaran, as he was endearingly called, passed away on August 18, 2016, after a period of intensive care.

Ainkaran was born on June 7, 1961 in Inuvil, a village in the northern peninsula  of the island Sri Lanka, which is renowned for upholding traditional, cultural and spiritual values. Ainkaran immigrated to US to study metallurgical technology in 1983, but his true calling was music. It is creditable on his part for having mastered music without undergoing any formal training, particularly in carnatic music (South Indian classical music). Ainkaran gained competence in music purely by listening. Hard work, dedication and perseverance were the factors that enabled him to rise to eminence as a stage performer.

Ainkaran performed on stage with movie industry legends in playback singing:   P.Susheela, S.P.Balasubramaniam, K.J.Jesudas, Jamunarani, Chitra, Chimaye, Manorama, Krish and other budding youths. He frequently partnered with US-based singers Anitha Krishna of New Jersey and Rama Raghuraman of Chicago.  During a 2002 FeTNA event, Chitra after performing with Aingaran remarked, “I never expected Ainkaran to sing so well.” Such a talented artist has been suddenly snatched away from the community at a young age.

Ainkaran was very methodical in his habits. Whatever he did, it was done meticulously and neatly. For instance, in attire he was always dressed smartly. Though his life span was short, he spent his life lavishly, having fun in the company of his relatives and friends, listening to their favorite music and reliving the good old days by recollecting memorable episodes and hilarious jokes. The photos here capture Ainkaran’s growth from a teenager to motorbike loving youth to a spiritually centered artist and a family man.  Ainkaran not only excelled in music, but also got involved in art and photography — a multi-talented artist.

Ainkaran celebrated his 54th birthday by posting the following on social media:

“Today, my life number has increased as usual and I am stepping into my 30th year of music journey-2015 since 1985. God is great and Thanks God that I have walked through lots of barricades, politics, nonsense talks and etc., in my music path but God was with me to boost me up and helped me to pass through and God is still with me and I am surrounded by him.”

“First, I would like to Thank  my parents, my wife, my kids, my brothers and their family, my sisters and their family, my true friends, my great musicians, my duet partners, my co-singers, my concert organizers, my music sponsors, my true supporters, my Facebook friends and my girl friends (JUST KIDDING).”

Ainkaran, on his website, reveals his deep appreciation to two people who helped him launch his music career:

“I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support, encouragement, and affection showed to me since starting in 1985.  Especially, I would really like to thank for my beloved brother late Dr. C. Manogaran from bottom of my heart to help me to find the right people in Chicago area.  With the help of those special people, I was able to find my great friend Dr. Xavier Roche; a radiologist and plays instruments as a hobby with his small group in early 80’s.  Dr. Xavier Roche helped me to promote throughout the U.S.  I would like to thank him for his talented, wonderful human compassion.”

Ainkaran’s late elder brother, Dr. Manogaran Chelvaduari exposed systematic colonization of the Tamil homeland by the ethnic Sinhala dominated government through research publications, and was the author of many books on the conflict in Sri Lanka while he was a professor at University of Wisconsin, Parkside, USA. His second brother Shanmugabaskaran is a community leader and a poet himself.

Ainkaran is survived by his wife Sivagowri, his daughter Anjali (graduated 2016) and son Ashwin (high school student).

Susheela-Ainkaran-Unthyam-2004-LaughterAmong many concerts Ainkaran gave with various artists one memorable but yet unpublished event was held in Queens, NY in 2004 called Uthayam in support of   Eelam Tamils.  That was 5 years ahead of the genocidal massacre of 140,000 Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009.  While the goal of the concert was solemn, the spirit of the event was high.  Specially, the duets from the ‘60s and ‘70s by P. Susheela amma and Ainkaran were not only nostalgic but fantastic.  Adjoining still video frame is a testimony to the fun both the singers and the audience had at the event where Ainkaran effortlessly pitched for Susheela amma in her voice whenever she missed the lyrics – dual voice being a unique talent of his.

SPB-FaceAinkaran held SPB sir as his guru/mentor and friend.  When Sangam contacted SPB sir for this article, he promptly sent us his feeling on Ainkaran on August 31st.  We reproduce his handwritten message in full:

“It is almost 12 years since I know Mr. Aingaran – Most of our communication was through emails and phone- The only topic of our conversation was Music, Film Music. He never bothered me with lengthy and unnecessary topics. He knew the value of my time.”

SPB sir continued: “In the past decade, whenever I was doing any concert in US, he was at least present in couple of venues, taking pain all the way to fly from his home city.  The last time I met him in Mr. IlayaRaja’s concert (forgot the place).  He was with me most of the time back stage.”

“I am guilty of two things which I could not fulfill when he asked.  Could not click a picture of him with IlayaRaja on the day of the concert and could not get him some L.P. record he was asking for.


with tears,

BaluSP  (signed 8.31.17)”


His singing partner on most of his US tours, Anitha Krishna recollects Ainkaran’s qualities succinctly as:

Anitha-Face“My first meeting with Ainkaran at a concert for ITS (Ilankai Tamil Sangam, NY-Ainkaran-Anitha-1NJ) was organized sometime in the early 2000’s.  After that, we have done several wonderful shows together all over the U.S.A, including a tour with P. Susheela Amma.  Usually the singers are not great organizers which require a lot of coordination with the musicians and the sponsors but Ankara did a great job doing both.  He was very meticulous and committed and one of his greatest qualities was that he had no ego on stage- He wanted all the singers to shine on stage and ensured that they showcased their best.  I am still coming to terms on the fact that he is no more – My husband Krishna used to speak with him on a regular basis.  We will really miss him.  God bless his soul!”

While living in Chicago, where he started his music journey, he partnered with Rama Raguhraman in 1991. rama-AinkaranShe describes her family’s loving relationship with Ainkaran:

“We are deeply saddened and pained by our dear friend Ainkaran’s demise and send our condolences to his friends and family. He was the most gifted artist and performer, as well as a perfectionist! I feel very fortunate and blessed to have known him since 1991, when I met him at a music program for Chicago Tamil Sangam.  After I had sung just one song, he came and introduced himself to me and said, “You are going to sing with me from next time.” That was the beginning of my music journey with him and the loving friendship that would follow between our families. I wouldn’t be here performing if it weren’t for him and I am forever indebted to him.

Ainkaran had a very keen sense of humor and a kind heart.  Both Raghu (Rama’s husband) and him shared a deep friendship. We had such memorable family road trips together! It was always music…music… music! He had an extremely rare song collection and loved to share his music with everyone! His love for music was eternal! I feel so fortunate to have sung so many beautiful melodies with him.  He taught me the nuances in singing, encouraged me and always supported me. Although we would occasionally have disagreements over song selection, it always came out beautifully (and he would never cease to mention how he was always correct!) He made sure all our stage performances were recorded and we spent many hours watching, listening and reminiscing together!

You have created a deep void in our lives Ainkaran. Your songs, beautiful memories and our friendship will keep you with us forever. God bless your family!”

As recently as 2015 Ainkaran joined the youthful super-singers Jessica Judes and Pragathi Guruprasad in US.  Among the multitude of concerts Ainkaran gave in North America with many accomplished artists, the adjoining collage of photos captures the essence of his embrace.  We simply could not do justice to ALL of his music partners, including the orchestra members, in this tribute. To witness some of his stage performances and his orchestra members we provide links to YouTube entries below.  Sangam thanks all of the musicians for helping Ainkaran reach the heights he ultimately achieved.

We complete this tribute by pointing to a curious plight of global Tamil artists.  An icon of Tamil music, Hon. late M. S. Visvanathan has never been blessed with a national (Indian) award for music direction nor an international recognition – not that he cared for, but it is  a pathetic state of power politics against a class of Tamils?  Is it high time for Eelam Tamils to endow an award system to recognize artists excelling in Tamil music?



Song Title (Embedded YouTube Link)
1 Thenral Urangiya Pothum
2 Madhura Nagaril Thamizh Sangam
3 Paal vannam paruvam kandu
4 Naalaam Naalaam Thiru Nalaam
5 Pani Illatha Margaliya
6 Anbumanam kanintha pinnaie
7 Oruthi Oruvanai
8 Kalayum Neyai (Duel Voice)
9  Iyatkai ennum ilaya kannee
10 Uyire uyire vanthu enoodu kalanthu
11 Eaai Paadal Ondru
Memorial Hymn
12 Jenmam Nirinthathu ஜென்மம் நிறைந்தது

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