The experts moved the audience with devotional fervour. s. sivakumar

Programmes at the Tamil Isai Sangam’s annual festival have a special charm. Along with regular concerts they have research sessions on Tamil music. These sessions are chaired by men and women of eminent learning in Tamizh Isai.

The curtain on the Sangam’s 70 annual festival came down on January 1 with pithy comments made by Pann Isai Perarignar Sami Dhandapani and valedictory speech by P.R. Gokulakrishnan, former Chief Justice, High Court of Gujarat and president, Tamil Isai Sangam.

The late-evening sessions saw regular concerts (both vocal, instrumental, dance events and light classical bhajan sessions) by prominent performers.

This writer caught up with three programmes, two relating to Thirumurai Isai and one to Naalayira Divya Prabhandham. Pann Isai Perarignar Muthukandasami Desigar’s soulful rendering of Thevara Isai was by itself a heavenly experience. He sang the following: ‘Pidiyadhan Uru Umai’ in Viyazhakurinji and ‘Sandhamar Akhilodu,’ both of Thirugnana Sambandar.

Following this he rendered two of Sundarar’s compositions - Thenai Purindhuzhal and Neyyum Paalum (in Varadi Pann). The Pann Varadi was similar to the raga Varali. He included a few Thiruppugazh songs also. He was accompanied by Kailasam (violin) and Yugarajan (mridangam).

Naaalayira Divya Prabhandha Isai was handled by Isaikalaimani Jegannathan. He had the following accompanists: Tiruvallur Parthasarathi (violin), Yugarajan (mridangam) and Balachandran (morsing). He rendered a number of songs in fine sequence, which included a Thiruppallaandu, Andaal’s two compositions, Thiruththai Sembodhe (Thirumangai Aazhwar) and Atthigiri Arulalar a composition of Vedantha Desigar. Two more compositions of Thirumazisai Aazhwar (Kaara Kaara Kaara Kaara Kaavaloozhi) and another of Nammaazhvar (Devi Maaraavar) were also sung. The first of these was a tongue-twister while the second was sung in the raga Gowri Manohari.

Isai Perarignar Sami Dhandapani had teamed with Subramani (violin), Rangarajan (mridangam) and Venkatesh (ghatam). It was infinite joy as his music was perfectly aligned with the sruti and even in the initial piece, a composition of Saiva Ellappa Naavalar (Saivathin Mel) he was able to establish his laya-proclivities by singing it in all kalams and also mixed them in perfect order. It was the most gratifying experience.

The songs rendered were: Marundhavan Vaanavar and Thondar Anju of Thirugnana Sambandar, and Eendraalumaai a Thiruviruththam of Navukkarasar, Maasil Veenaiyum from Thirukurunthogai, Manickavachagar’s Kaiyyaar Valai Silamba and Thandhadhu Unthannai from Thiruvachagam. The manner in which Sami Dhandapani sang Pattinaththar’s Kallaa Pizhaiyum with bhava that conveyed the meaning line by line, moved the entire audience. He had also included Tiruppugazh, ‘Amudhamoorum Sollaagiya Thogayar.

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)