K.J. Yesudas is blessed, for the Suprabatham that marks the opening of the Ayyappan temple at Sabarimalai and ‘Harivarasanam,’ played during the closing ceremony at night, are recorded in his voice. Listening to Yesudas at the Kamarajar Arangam on the eve of Pongal was an absolute delight.

The programme was organised by ABBAS, which started its Kalai Vizha of Carnatic music 19 years ago at the singer’s behest.

Yesudas has a huge fan following in this city. Instead of opting to present popular songs to keep the house full, Yesudas chose a different path and was still able to keep the audience riveted.

After the Thodi varnam, he sang a traditional alapana. After that, one thought Hamsadhwani and ‘Vatapi’ would follow. That he had a different idea became evident when he touched Suddha Rishabam. With his captivating voice, he went on to present the raga with ease.

Nagai Muralidharan (violin) followed suit. The song ‘Vaarana Mugathonai’ with niraval and swaras went on to establish the raga swaroopa. Yesudas announced the raga as Rukhmambari. Next was a brief essay of Pushpalatika, a raga not touched by the Trinity. This is a derivative of 22{+n}{+d} melakarta Kharaharapriya. ‘Gurukripa’ was the kriti. Yesudas went for swaraprasthara for this too. The rasikas were awe-struck and cheered with thunderous applause.

The next song was Tyagaraja’s ‘Enda Vedukonduraghava’. Chakravaham was detailed as well. Such is the power of his voice that even with the microphone at a distance of about 10 cm, he could produce the desired effect.

The kriti ‘Brahmadadhipam’ had kalpanaswaras wherein the veteran singer showcased his range over thristhayi. His sketch of Charukesi (‘Krupaya’-Mishra chapu-Swati) and Suddha Saveri (‘Sri Guruguha’-Rupakam) were on his own terms.

Next was a Suvarnangi alapana. Sauveera is the name given to this raga by Dikshitar. ‘Sarasa Sauveera’, a Dikshitar kriti (Adi) was sung at a slow pace with niraval and swaras.

Tiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam (mridangam) unleashed an array of strokes with fantastic power and control during the thani. Trupunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) proved a good foil.

As if a dose of rare ragas was not enough, Yesudas presented an Urdu poem in Ketakapriya (he gave a detailed explanation of the raga). The crowd loved everything he presented, even if the fare was largely unfamiliar. Is it not a divine blessing?