A Holiday in Tiruchanoor

Last week-end, we were in the temple-town of Tiruchanur where BRAHMOTSAVAM of Goddess Padmavathi was celebrated with zeal for ten days. I participated in the celebrations on the fifth day which is particularly popular among the devotees as the Goddess takes a pride ride on Her favourite vehicle which is a massive golden GAJA VAHANAM. The grandeur, beauty and charm of Goddess seated on the GAJA(Elephant) has to be seen to be believed. The royal procession of Goddess around the streets of the temple-town is aptly led by a live elephant which is well decorated. This is followed by several troupes of colourfully dressed artists performing dances, singing bhajans, beating drums, playing a variety of bands and ending with auspicious Nadaswaram recital by well-known artists. Nadaswaram is followed by a group(GOSHTI)of pundits chanting the sacred NALAYIRA DIVYAPRABANDHAM then the Goddess on Gajavahanam and finally, the procession ends with chanting of Vedas by Vedic scholars.

The exhibition of cultural extravaganza of music and dance is perhaps symbolic of the rich diversity in the God’s creation.


What interested me most in the procession was the Nadaswaram recital by the famous Vidwans, Kasim & Babu, who are the grand sons of the great Nadaswaram Maestro Sheikh Chinna Maulana of the previous generation.  It was indeed a great treat to listen to their classical music in the natural ambience of the village. As the procession moved at a snail’s pace with several stop-overs, the duration of the recital easily extended well over three hours.

Towards the end of the procession, the ‘Vidwans’ played a composition of Thayagaraja, “Padavini”, in Salaka Bhairavi. Besides the melody, this composition seemed to be quite apt for the occasion. Let me explain. The royal procession of the Goddess is dominated by the presence of VIPs(TTD chairman, EO,Deputy EO etc) who were surrounded by their cronies and sycophants. ‘Padavi’ in Telugu means status or position. Thyagaraja is condemning and decrying precisely this kind of display of status, power and privileges.
Listen to this beautiful song at the link presented by Malladi Brothers.
As they finished the piece, I asked the Vidwans to present yet another well-known composition, NIDHI CHALA SUKHAMA, a well-known song in the Raga Kalyani.This is yet another daring piece of the composer wherein he exposes the greed of people for wealth while ignoring the wealth of BHAKTI or devotion to God. The Vidwans, who are usually obliging, strangely refused saying that the answers to such questions are clear enough in the present day. They said:’The behaviour of the crowd that you see around itself tells you which wealth they care for’! Their point was that there was no appreciative audience for them to perform. I suggested to them: ‘If you guys feel so strongly about it, you could try singing another composition of Thyagaraja, ENDUKU PEDDALA VALE BUDHI IYYAVU (Raga Sankarabharanam), meaning why cannot the God bless me with the same kind of wisdom as that of the great people.

I do not know whether they played this piece since I left the procession after this episode.

Published in: on November 28, 2014 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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