Lakshman Sruti’s annual Aiyappa Mela, featuring songs on Lord Aiyappa, will be held on November 20.

The advent of the Tamil month of Kartigai is significant for Aiyappa devotees, who begin their fast and puja rituals that culminate in the journey to Sabarimala. Songs on Aiyappa fill the air and special albums are released during the period. All leading singers have rendered songs on the Lord. Stage orchestras include Aiyappa songs too.

For Lakshman Sruti, dedicated to devotional music, presenting programmes of Aiyappa songs is a form of service, which the troupe has been doing for the past 25 years.

It is not just singing of the songs. Right from the tastefully decorated stage that includes a replica of the Sabarimala sannidanam to annadanam, the ambience is soaked in devotion.

“The expenditure runs into lakhs of rupees, half of which is shared by sponsors; but the service gives me immense satisfaction; by His grace, I have performed across the country and abroad,” says V. Lakshman. He thanks all those who have stood by him over the years. “They pay the hall charges, some take charge of the puja materials and so on,” he explains.

All-time favourites

According to Lakshman, Veeramani Somu’s ‘Aatha Karumaari’ sung by K. Veeramani is an evergreen hit in their concerts. The 20-minute song sets the tone for the performance. ‘Pallikattu Sabarimalaikku’ and ‘Padipattu,’ of course, are the favourites. Illustrious persons including Pithukuli Murugadass, MSV, TMS, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, P.B. Srinivos, Shankar-Ganesh, Gangai Amaran, L.R. Easwari and Malaysia Vasudevan have sung for Lakshman Sruti. Lakshman thanks regulars Veeramani Somu, Sirkazhi Dr. Siva Chidambaram, Veeramani Dasan, Veeramani Raju, Veeramani Kannan, music director Sampath Selvan, Kovai Kamala and Sakthi Shanmuga Raja for their continuous support. These annual concerts provide a platform for many young and aspiring singers too, for instance, Mukesh and Karumaari Karuna. Lakshman’s wife Malathi always gets a standing ovation when she sings ‘Thaga Thaga Ena Aadavaa,’ ‘Pazham Neeyappa’ and ‘Thanjai Periya Kovil.’ Lakshman remembers the concert (2000) held at the Kilpauk basketball court that was presided over by K.J. Yesudas. About 8,000 Aiyappa devotees were present to witness the puja, receive the prasadam and listen to the songs. Both Kunnakkudi and MSV have expressed appreciation of the selection of songs.

Lakshman Sruti’s annual Aiyappa Mela beckons devotees to Kamarajar Arangam, 5 p.m., on November 20. A.P. Komala, A.L. Raghavan and L.R. Easwari will be honoured.

The singers include Manicka Vinayakam, Veeramani Dasan, Krishnaraj, Unni Menon, Vael Murugan, Saindavi, Malathi, Charulatha Mani, Vinaya, Mukesh and Chinnaponnu.