Migrant worker who performed traditional Indian martial arts wins top prize at talent competition
SINGAPORE: A migrant worker who choreographed and performed a sequence of Silambam - a traditional martial art form practised in India - took home the top prize at a talent competition on Monday night (Jul 5).
Mr Ganesan Sandhirakasan came in first place with the most number of likes and views for his video on the @sg4mw TikTok account, beating 19 other shortlisted individuals to take home the prize money of S$1,000.
The competition is part of the Tamil variety series Chill Pannu Maappi!, which is commissioned by the Ministry of Communication and Information and produced by Cosmic Ultima Pictures.
Silambam has been practised in India since 4th century BC.
The 33-year old migrant worker, who teaches Taekwondo, started practising martial arts at the age of 12 and won a silver medal for India at the first Silambam World Championship in 2010.
"(I decided to take part) after seeing the advertisement (for the competition) on the website. My workplace was closed during the COVID period," he said of the talent competition held in Singapore.
"I wanted to use the time usefully on something. Therefore, I choreographed (a demonstration of) the Indian martial art Silambam."
READ: Traditional dance, cooking, martial arts: Migrant workers showcase skills for talent competition
The series was made for migrant workers in Singapore and the final episode aired on Monday night.
Migrant workers were invited to send in video submissions of their talents, and the show received more than 600 submissions, said executive producer of the show S S Vikneshwaran.
Out of the submissions, 20 participants including Mr Ganesan were shortlisted by award-winning actress Aishwarya Rajesh. The top three finalists were decided by the number of views and likes their videos got on TikTok.
Mr Ganesan said he submitted his video with the intention of making the martial art form known to more people, and to encourage others to keep fit, he said.
"It takes concentration, fitness, and practice to perform a continuous sequence of Silambam. Learners benefit from both physical health and mental health," he added.
Mr Ganesan has lived in Singapore for the past seven years, and been teaching Taekwondo here for the past five years.
The second place in the competition went to Mr Vignesh Sathish, whose video of him performing a traditional dance known as the Karagattam in costume won him S$500.
The third place winner - with a prize money of S$300 - was Mr Saran Raj, an assistant supervisor with a cleaning company who submitted a video of himself singing.
Mr Ganesan said he was “happy and excited” to find out he won the top prize. He plans to keep half of the S$1,000 prize money for his own use, and donate the other half to his hometown Mayiladuthurai in the Tamil Nadu region in India.
The donation will go to a foundation in his hometown, and provide at least 500 meals for the elderly.
Mr Ganesan said he hopes the money will help individuals who are facing “challenging times” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those who may be struggling to feed themselves.