Saturday, 12 April 2008

GANGAMRITHAM

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.

13 comments:

Indrani said...

Congratulations!
The satisfaction you got matters most.

Sarumann said...

Congrats on your second performance! Professional performers now...Photos look good!

Kamini said...

Wow, you are veterans now! Such evocative writing, Raji, I really enjoyed reading it.
Kamini.

Gardenia said...

Bravo! Keep going!

Groucho gawks said...

Sounds exciting. Hopefully you have a recording of this.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

Congratz!! Well, I hope you people can change the world...seriously, show everyone that old ladies have got as much enthusiasm in life as youngsters. All the very best! Nice Photos :)

GVK said...

Reminds me of my wife's aunt, the late Kalyani Ramaswamy who was a lead singer in a similar group that functioned in Mylapore area. Kalyani Mami, to her song-group colleagues, I reckon, used to be part of Delhi group led by Guru Raghavan in early 70s.
Returning to Chennai, on her husband's retirement from the central govt. service Kalyani Mami initiated a group that operated out of her residence near Luz Corner that specialised in rendering 'Thirupghazh'.
What struck me about this group was that its members formed themselves into a close-knit mutual help group that involved itself, and participated pro-actively in one another's household functions. If any member gave a social service call to promote her pet cause, we had others volunteering.

Anonymous said...

Nice pic and write up

Maiji said...

Congrats, Gangamritham. A good job; well done!

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

True, Indrani.

Thanks, Sarumann, Gardenia. Yes, Groucho, we do have a recording.

Kamini, veterans in all senses of the word. Young Lakshmi sees us as old, but enthusiastic!Thanks.

GVK, thanks for the detailed comment. Two coincidences - our music class is also held in Luz - and my mother who has spent most of her life in Delhi says she knows Guru Raghav. And we old gals are pretty close-knit, too; we hope we get closer as we get older. :)

Thank you, Maiji and Anonymous - and I would love to know who you are, Anonymous.

The pics were taken on group mate Chitra's camera by a member of the audience. The individual pictures of the boys are file pictures which they provided.

Alaphia said...

This post made me very nostalgic about Chennai and the wonderful Mylapore area. Congratulations on a good performance too!

Anonymous said...

Oh, you know me alright.

Karthik Narayan said...

personally, i prefer neiamritham :)

congrats, well done, great photos. and next time, save some tiger rice for me, its my favorite....

to reemphasize - ur becoming a veteran writer in the true sense of it...

Sociable