An aspiring artiste seldom gives the first public performance, or thenga moodi kutcheri, in a renowned sabha

Even if one begins music lessons at a young age, the day of the first performance matters a lot in this part of the world.

An aspiring artiste seldom gives the first public performance, locally referred to as the thenga moodi kutcheri, in a renowned sabha. It is more probable that it is at a temple, where irrespective of age, he or she is honoured with flowers and coconut (thenga moodi) that have been offered to the deity there.

“It is not always a maiden performance, but more an ancient concept associated with artistes who did not get an opportunity to perform in prestigious sabhas in prime slots,” explains Chithra Madhavan, who runs Ganamrutha Music School.

“They are a great find for small sabha organisers who are unable to get the bigger stars.”

Ms. Madhavan’s students are trained to perform in temples, functions and small gatherings. The students generally begin their musical journey in groups once they learn to sing varnams. “As this instils great confidence in them, learning improves and they slowly move on to solo performances,” says Ms. Madhavan.

“This is how I was spotted by a sabha,” says Janani, presently under the tutelage of Sugandha Kalamegam, who performs at temples in Adyar during festivals. A final-year B.Com student of MOP Vaishnav College, Janani performed for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on December 22, for the first time during the music season.

Aruna Sathyanarayanan, a Delhi-based Carnatic singer, has performed not only in temples, but also in sabhas during the Delhi Margazhi Mahotsav and Gayathri Fine Arts, apart from TV reality shows. Her husband, Balaji Narasimhan, an employee of CTS, says he gathered the courage to become a light music singer after performing in ‘thenga moodi’ concerts.

Among the many youngsters of the present generation who have given up a lucrative career to spend their time in music is Santhosh Subramanium, a chartered accountant-turned singer.

Though he has performed at many popular venues such as the Tamil Isai Sangam and Sadguru Sangeetha Samajam and others, it is the performances at temples that help a musician find his balance. He says, “It is easier than singing at a sabha, but if one takes it seriously, and sincerely, it can help build a great career.”

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