Hamsadhwani completes 20, and to mark the occasion nine oldest sabhas in the city will be honoured. Looking at the names of the Navaratna Sabhas, one can't help being transported back 50 years in time, when most of the ongoing concerts of Carnatic music were organised by them.
One of the traditional and morally elevating concepts prevailing in conservative Indian society is the celebration of the 'Sashtiaptapoorti' of a person attaining the age of sixty, by his or her children. The whole idea is to demonstrate one's respect and love for the elders. It is this same spirit which seems to have inspired Hamsadhwani, which completes 20 years of dynamic activity this month, to honour the nine oldest sabhas in the city, in a nine-day cultural programme spread over a fortnight from Aug. 15.
The criterion for selection is a consistent track record of more than 50 years. The youngest among them -- Narada Gana Sabha (52 years) and Krishna Gana Sabha (58) — happen to be the most active among the nine old Sabhas. Mylapore Fine Arts Society will be completing 60 next year. Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha and Tamizh Isai Sangam are a little over 65. Indian Fine Arts Society will turn 80 in a couple of years, while Rasika Ranjani Sabha (80) and the Music Academy (82) have just crossed that landmark.
Having the unique distinction of being more than 100 years old is Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, which was established in 1900. One can't resist referring to these noble institutions as Navaratna Sabhas (Nine Gems)!
This spirit of respect for others was characteristic of Hamsadhwani's founder-secretary, the late R. Ramachandran , who had a very close rapport with many of his peers in the field of cultural organisation. It is good to see that his earnest efforts to set new trends are being continued by the dedicated team which had assisted him, now led by his son, Sundar Ramachandran, who is currently the honorary secretary of the sabha.
Looking at the names of the Navaratna Sabhas in Hamsadhwani's invitation to the forthcoming festival, one can't help being transported back 50 years in time, when most of the ongoing concerts of Carnatic music were organised by them. Enhancing this feeling of time travel is the inaugural day's programme (Aug. 15), which intriguingly features a full-length Bharatanatyam recital by none other than Vyjayanthimala, one of the original superstars of Indian cinema!