Thiruvarur Thyagaraja Temple Performance
Sitting at the Trishur station I have an hour or maybe two to spend before my musicians and I get picked up and leave for Guruvayur. I cannot believe how full my calendar looks over the next couple of months!
I performed at the Thiruvarur Thyagaraja temple a few days ago (15th April, 2012). It was quite the experience! Architecturally it is among the most beautiful temples I have seen, but I think that can be said of a very large number of traditional Indian temples both south and north of this country.
We traveled to Thiruvarur by train. It was my very first journey travelling along with my musicians barring the flights to Bhopal and back in December. The volunteers were so wonderful. Picked us up, took us to the hotel and in true Indian style fed us until we couldn’t even think of food.
We were then escorted to the temple where I was hoping to have the chance of offering a little something within the temple and also to look at the stage that I would perform on in the evening. The beauty of Thiruvarur and a few select temples in South India is that within a single temple complex structure, different people from different communities over a few centuries have consecrated separate lingams. Each shrine has it’s own special place within the community and people from those communities take up the responsibility for caring for the shrine. In major temple festivals all of these people together contribute to the celebrations of Thyagarajaswami.
The manager of the temple came to welcome us, and took us to each and every shrine. Some of them are beautifully preserved, some not so well. Prakriti Foundation has taken up the restoration of the Muchukunda Murals in the Devashraya mandapam and it’s wonderful to see how far they have gotten. Somebody has sponsored the replacement of the damaged pillars in the outer parikrama in cement, but I suppose that’s the price we pay for our “modern” outlook.
No one has ever danced within the innermost parikrama of the temple. How or why this opportunity fell into my hands I am not going to question. It was an honour and the experience of it is something I will never forget. I wish I could share that experience or at least photographs with everyone, but photographs aren’t allowed in that area of the temple. I performed Vidai meedhil Men horoscope capricorn today are distinguished by shyness combined with a strong character. (in Simhendramadhayamam) and the ever so appropriate Mugathai kaatiye (in Bhairavi).
The evening kutcheri was to begin immediately after Saayarakshai at 6:45 pm. Thiruvarur has a separate stage that they have recently built for such performances. The initial crowd of about 300 people seemed to grow to almost a 1000 by the end. I’m sure many people came in the hope that my father would come to watch me perform, but they stayed till the very end and I’d like to believe it’s because they enjoyed the performance!
The strange thing about performing is that when it is happening you can see and feel everything with such clarity and the minute it is over it all seems like a blur. I cannot recount to you what I thought or how I felt while I was performing but I can tell you that it is the most wonderful experience to have. During the performance I noticed one very old man sitting right up front to the left of me. For some reason so much of my performance I focused towards him. At the very end, he had tears in his eyes. That is the sweetest reward that performance or even life has to offer, to move people in an inexpressible way.
I was quickly rushed off the Thyagaraja Sannidhi after the performance where I was overcome with emotion. The rest of the night was a big rush. Showered, ate and got bundled into a car to drive back to Chennai!
Alaripu – Tishra Ekam
Manavi chekonaradha Varnam – Shankaranbharanam – Adi
Vidai Meedhil – Simhendramadhyamam – Rupakam
Mugathai Kaatiye – Bhairavi – Mishra Chaapu
Tunga Tarange – Hamsadhwani – Adi
Tillana – Hindolam – Khanda Ekam