Festival editions of Tamil magazines make a colourful splash.
Deepavali is linked to a rich publishing tradition with periodicals coming out with carefully compiled volumes. A quick look at the array:
Sita with Lava and Kucha adorn the cover of the special, the story written by Sudha Seshaiyan. A highlight is essays on sthala vriksham – trees special for specific temples. With examples, T.K. Neelakantan explains how certain trees are associated with some temples. For instance, jack tree (Tirukutralam, Tirunaalur, etc.,), bamboo (Tirunelveli), mango (Kanchi Ekambareswarar temple) and magizham (Tiruvotriyur). The volume contains articles on the comedians of Tamil screen (Padmini Pattabiraman), obsolete utility items (Geetha Neelakantan) and the beauty of temples by Chitra Madhavan, essays, short stories and poems.
‘Kooresarin Aruvar’ – the cover story by R. Srinivasan explains how the devotion of the chosen six is unique. The devotees are Prahlad, Vibishana, Gajendra, Draupadi, Ahalya and Druva. Baraskar’s colourful sketches bring alive the stories. The content ranges from patriotic to entertainment touching on culture, art and cinema. A pen portrait of TMS (Major Dasan), who passed away in the past year catches attention. Price: Rs. 150.
Entirely dedicated to Shirdi Sai, the special has articles revolving round the savant, universally worshipped. An interview with K.V. Ramani, who has made Sai Ashrama t Shirdi possible with his munificence is a highlight. The journal that has the green marble idol of the saint on the cover, solicits donations to purchase land for a temple to instal the rare image. Donations may be sent to Sai Prachar Seva Trust, No. 2, A/2, Tharachand Nagar Mainroad, Virugambakkam, Chennai 600092. Phone: 23773311, 42550604 and 9840325245. The special (Rs. 100) comes with a supplement that contains Sai Arati bhajans in Tamil and Marati.
Remember soap stone? Maakkal in Tamil, this was stuff that was common in the kitchens of the South once upon a time. Modernisation and fast lifestyle have quietly pushed maakkal into oblivion. But not quite so, as we learn from this article. There is demand for the heavy stone vessels that give food an authentic taste and V. Neelakantan visits the quarries to unearth an interesting story. So also is the article on wood sculpting. N. Senthilvel meets the artists who make exquisite figures and majestic cars. Short stories, recipes and interviews make the edition (Rs. 125) highly readable.
There is so much to read and savour in this edition that brims with matter related to spiritualism. Ma.Se.’s visual presentation of Mahavishnu Mangalasloka gives the book a splendid and auspicious start. In fact, drawings and paintings by the artists – Ma.Se., Veda, Maruti, Padmavasan and Bharatiarja – add considerable appeal to the content. Occupying centre stage is M.N. Srinivasan’s analysis of Mahavishnu’s reclining posture (sayanakolam). Justice D.S. Arunachalam explains how guru and the Almighty are the same. In his inimitable style Mahaperiyava cites stories of women, who were steadfast in their faith and turned truants back to the right path. Another gem is Mukkur Lakshminarsimhachariar’s ‘Harikathamrutam.’ Nuggets on freedom fighters.
The bedecked figure of Andal, complete with her famous hairdo, father Vishnuchitar right behind and Krishna playing the flute adorn the cover of Om Sakti. The volume opens with brief messages from various spiritual leaders and serves rich material for readers with different interests. Star writers of poetry and prose share space with Ma.Se, Maruti and Padmavasan providing artistic elegance. Ma.Se’s brush captures Buddha’s journey to renunciation in exquisite style. Price Rs. 90.
In the editorial note, Girija Raghavan speaks of the constraints she faced while putting the special together and thanks all those who contributed to production. The volume does not suffer from the tensions that usually go with such circumstances. From religion and travel to short story and essay, the edition has everything. Temples in the U.S. by Yoga and ‘Click’ Ravi’s nostalgic recollection of things that have been erased with the passage of time are of special interest. Price Rs. 120.