The 15th edition of the annual bhajanothsavam in Palakkad featured many stalwarts in the genre.

Devotees thronged the Mahaganapathy Kalyana Mandapam, Kalpathy, Palakkad during the 15th edition of the annual bhajanothsavam, which was conducted to commemorate the 120th Jayanthi of Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya.

As a prelude to the bhajan festival, ‘Ghana parayanam’, continuous chanting of ‘Ghanam’ - a mode of veda chanting by veda exponents, was held for 28 days. It was led by Sattanur S. Krishnamoorthy Ghanapaadigal and Manakkal K.L. Krishnamoorthy Ghanapaadigal. In the evenings, there were absorbing religious discourses.

This was followed by Kalakshepams (musical lectures) by Udayalur Kalyanaraman, for four days.

The bhajanothsavam began with ‘Guru keerthanam’ by Kanpur Mahadeva Bhagavathar and party. Gifted with a resonant, powerful voice, Thanjavur Thyagaraja Bhagavathar regaled the listeners with melodious rendition of Jayadeva’s Geetha Govindam (Ashtapadi songs). Kodunthirapully Subbaraman, a violinist by profession, acquitted himself creditably in his new role as a bhajan exponent.

Kalpathy Archana and her group impressed the audience with their pleasing presentations. Well versed in classical music, Nurani Jayasree sang with great devotion and bhava. Receiving good support from her co-singers, she rendered numerous abhangs and naamavalis, rich in devotional flavour.

‘Aandal kalyanam’ by sisters Shantha and Raji and other members of Suvasini Bhajana Mandali, Kalpathy, on the second day was a great hit. ‘Krishnamrutham’ by Chithra Jayaram and group (Bhaktha Meera bhajana mandali, Tripunithura) was a tidy presentation interspersed with choice bhajans and naamavalis on Krishna.

Bhajan Ravi maintained a fine tempo, with his evocative renditions. His programme included quite a few bhajans and naamavalis on Kanchi Acharya. He was supported by “briga” Balu.

The seasoned bhagavathar Erode Rajamani revealed his respect for tradition through his appealing Guru keerthanas, Ashtapadi, Tarangam and songs of Bhadrachala Ramadas, Purandaradasa, Sadasiva Brahmendral, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Tyagaraja (Panchapadi) and others.

This was succeeded by a scintillating ‘Divya nama sankeerthanam’. The third day’s proceedings began with bhajans by Vittal Vinod Bhagavathar and party, Thiruvananthapuram. Their programme was rather prosaic. The members of Gnanananda Bhajana Mandali Junior, Chennai, made a distinct mark with their bhava-laden renditions. Anand and party from Mumbai won accolades for their absorbing bhajans.

With his reverberating voice, young Karthik Gnaneshwar grabbed the attention of the listeners. He excelled in rendering moving viruthams, bhajans and naamavalis.

Udayalur Kalyanarama Bhagavathar has evolved a unique identity and a distinct style of his own in the field of Naamasankeerthanam. His ‘Divya nama sankeerthanam’ lasting for seven continuous hours (from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) was a sumptuous feast of slokas, viruthams, bhajans and naamavalis.

Seetha Kalyanam (another major segment of Naamasankeerthanam) on the concluding day was performed elaborately by A.V.K. Rajasimha Bhagavathar, another noted bhajan exponent.

The concluding phase consisting of ‘Vasanthothsavam’ and ‘Anjaneyothsavam’ by Srikanth Koundinyan were pleasing to listen to. The ‘Abhinaya’ by renowned Eswara Prasad during Divyanamam, Seetha kalyanam, and Vasanthothsavam was a wonderful treat.

All the supporting vocalists played a major role and contributed a lot for the success of the bhajan concerts.

The special feature of this year’s festival was the brilliant performances by many youngsters, both male and female.