Author: Ms Lakshmi
Wow! There is a splendid, enchanting, spacious park – lush green – well maintained – a botanical garden, quite and a lovesome place – and believe it or not – right in the center and heart of the great city of New Delhi (India). It is called the Thyagaraja Park. Hum, but not many are aware of its significance and its glory or even its presence. But once if a connoisseur or even an ordinary interested person in Carnatic music should per chance visit this spot he/she is simply bound to be spell-bound and mesmerized. Wow – who’s brainchild designed this whole concept – one wonders!!
The garden has a very elegant landscaping, and in the midst is a lovely edifice reading out in brief the history of the Great Music Composer – Saint Thyagaraja. Surrounding this at a fair distance are seven smaller marble structures, each with one of the seven primary Musical notes “Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Da Ni ” engraved artistically. Each stone bears a significant message from some choice composition of the composer mention in both English and Hindi.
Many just pass on and walk around for their constitutional walks and affairs.
But not every one. The Samaritans Mrs Mythili Raghavan (a connoisseur of carnatic music and also a spirited Vaishnavait) and her spouse Mr Raghavan (Retd. W.H.O.) of South Delhi have been so inspired by this great feature that they decided that this must be celebrated. They conceived this ambience as a very appropriate place to be the venue for many classical music events and in particular the Thyagaraja Aradhana in the form of rendering the “Pancha Ratna Kritis”.
Well these noble thoughts were not just wistful passing fancy. By sheer perseverance and imagination they single handedly managed to organize a very significant and memorable Inagural Cultural day with an Aradhana Celebration. Eminent Vidwan Neivali Santhanagopalan was specially brought over from Chennai to conduct the proceedings. There was a gathering of discerning audience and musicians from all over Delhi. Mention must be made of Shri NA Ramachandran – President of the Gayatri Fine Arts who organized the leading music chorus to sing the Kritis. Mrs Rajeshwari Dinakar Rao from Rohini did a good job in preparing her team for this occasion. Other eminent participants from Delhi were Mrs Janaki Ramasubhan, Mrs Saroja Raman and Mrs Vasantha Sundaram from Mayur Vihar Delhi.
One distinguishing feature of this event was the absence of any fanfare of VIPs and Speeches. Of coerce being only a small humble affair in the nascent stage it was not worth their trouble of a visit. Conspicuous by their absence were the traditional government VIPs or industrial dignitaries. However, the whole event went off very well marked by the fervor, devotion, awe and punctuality.
The absence of the traditional dignitaries was set off by another surprise presence and participation. Being an open botanical park – the resident community of birds like the parrots, sparrows made their rounds of curiosity and went about their business without disturbing the event. However the most unanticipated sight was the almost not stop dance by three colorful peacocks and was a delight to watch them dancing with abandon at a distance perched elegantly nearby. (Luckily they didn’t join the chorus as their voice is not that salutary for this occasion).
The function started off at 0730 in the morning. The morning was cool and bracing and the program concluded around 1030am with a grand snacks and coffee service which is worth a mention.
Tyagaraja Aaradhana, the commemorative music festival is held every year at Thiruvaiyaru in the months of January to February in honor of Tyagaraja. This is a weeklong festival of music where various Carnatic musicians from all over the world converge at his Samadhi. On the Pushya Bahula Panchami, thousands of people and hundreds of musicians sing the five Pancharatna Kritis in unison, with the accompaniment of a large orchestra of violins, flutes, nagaswarams, mridangams and ghatams.
Well this just not the end!! All over the country and at many places outside India too this Thyagaraja Aradhana is celebrated with greatest fervor and spirit. The participants render individual kritis, some a longer session and eminent artists a full fledged concert – however the rendering of the Pancharatna Kritis in a group is the highlight of each attempt.
Well – it is now an established fact that the biggest Indian Musical Festival outside India is the Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival at Cleveland – Ohio in USA and so much so that even the present president of the USA, George Bush has taken note of this feature and has very candidly and quaintly mentioned about the spirit of this festival with these words: “I Appreciate your efforts to celebrate your traditions, culture, and history. Your good work contributes to our country’s legacy of diversity and honors the many ways Indian Americans enrich the American experience and makes our country a better place to live.”
Kudos to the trio here – Mr (Toronto) Venkatraman – President, Mr VV Sundaram – Secretary and Mrs Gomathi Balu who have made this possible with their untiring efforts and imagination.
The humble and sincere desire of this music lovers here in Delhi is that events here also grow from strength to strength and Thyagaraja Aradhana becomes an event to be looked forward to.
Illustration: Saint Thyagaraja