Gangamritham. This is the name of our music group. We are made up of a motley group of housewives, ages ranging 40 to 60 plus, and Ganga is our guru, hence the name.
Yesterday we gave our second public performance, and we are elated, because it went off so well. And we had accompanists, too - young boys, (really young, they could have been my grandsons!)
Shyam, all of 12,( I could barely resist pinching his cheeks) played the violin and Jayadev, 15, played the mridangam. Both of them performed well – compared to us they are old hands at this. Shyam has been learning for five years from Lalitha Raghavan, and Jayadev from Srirangarajapuram Jayaraman for 10 years! We have been learning only for a year and a half. And some of us only for the last few months. Some of us go away to visit our children and rejoin. So our learning sessions are a little irregular. But for the concert, we rehearsed diligently, and put in that special effort.
This concert too was, like our first one , at a temple. Sri Venkatesa Perumal Temple is an old temple, in Mandaveli, where the Brahmotsavam has been conducted regularly for the last 60 years. Strangely, I had never heard of it earlier, and neither had any of my friends. But my husband decided to check out the place and came back with the information that it was a smallish temple where the Brahmotsavam was just over, and Rama Navami season just started.
Ganga had chosen a collection of songs on Sri Rama and Venkatachalapathi, by Sri Thyagaraja, Annamacharya, Thulsidas, Narayana Theertha and some others. The songs were well received by the listeners, mostly a floating audience, because they would come to the temple, stay a few minutes to pray, listen to us and move on. One senior lady was visibly moved by ‘Ezhumalai vaasa, Venkatesa’ in raagam Revathi, and sang along with an expression of such devotion and joy that I was touched. Though she got up to leave, she stayed on to the end, and was one of the few who later came up to us and greeted us.
It was hot and sultry inside the tiny temple, and we were sort of cramped in the available space, and sweating profusely; the lone pedestal fan could not provide much of a breeze -poor Jayadev was drenched in his kurta; and very often the singers outnumbered the listeners. My throat had got injured, paradoxically while swallowing a painkiller, and I could not sing the high notes. But who cared? We enjoyed singing with devotion, and pleasing the devotees. At the end we were given special darisanam and prasadam, including some excellent puliyinsaatham.
A most satisfying experience.