Kamban Vizha organised by Kovai Kamban Kazhagam brought out many hitherto unknown details about ‘Kamba Ramayanam.'

Literature is an undying source of beauty and joy. Though the desire to study great classics is slowly dwindling, Tamil Nadu can be proud of the fact that festivals are held now and then in honour of great poets and the love for literature is rekindled in the minds of even those who have almost forgotten it.

Kovai Kamban Kazhagam has been organising Kamban Vizha for the past 38 years, which itself is a great feat. This festival is quite popular and those in Coimbatore support this by turning out in large numbers. The organisers provide opportunities to the speakers to delve deep into Kamba Ramayanam and bring out the hidden beauty of this immortal epic. The listener has to just be there to enjoy a wholesome intellectual feast.

This year's ‘Kamban Vizha' began with ‘vizha mangalam' at Nani Palkhiwala Auditorium in Coimbatore. In his presidential address, scholar, author and speaker, Silamboli Sellappan touched many areas of the work and gave a sample of his wide learning and ability to reach out to people.

Philosophical aspects

Tiruppur Krishnan, editor, Amudha Surabhi spoke on ‘Thathuva Kamban' dealing with the philosophical aspects found in Kamba Ramayanam. He made it clear that however great a work may be, the ideas expressed in it may not be relevant for all times. For example, Kamban says that while languishing in Lanka, Sita was miserable thinking of what Rama would do if a guest came. Today, with both the spouses working, if the husband has a night shift and if he stays at home, he has to look after the guest. It is not the wife's prerogative, anymore.

Krishnan however, pointed out that there are certain elements in Kamba Ramayanam which will always be relevant and out of them the most distinguishing philosophy of Kamban is his advocacy of international brotherhood. He elaborated on Rama's generosity to accept Guhan, a tribal chief, Sugreeva, a monkey king and Vibheeshana a demon king as his brothers.

The session on the next morning, ‘Balakandam, a bird's eye view' was presided over by Shantamani, Head of the Department of Tamil, P.S.G.R. Krishnammal College for women. Well-researched speeches were given by S. Ramakrishnan, Kudavayil Ramamurthy and I.K. Subramaniam. In the evening there was a dance drama on ‘Ayodhya Kandam' prepared and presented by the teachers and students of Mani Higher Secondary School and Rasakondalar Matric Higher Secondary School.

The most awaited pattimandram analysed the three characters – Ravana, Kumbakarna and Vibhishana to decide whose depiction of Kamban was the best. Gana. Sirsabesan presided over and mediated the arguments. His introductory speech and his final verdict were packed with his characteristic humour and enjoyable anecdotes. S. Ramakrishnan and A. Jegannathan argued for Vibhishana, Punitha Ekambaram and P. Latha spoke for Ravana while Kudavayil Ramamurthy and Malaiyappan took the side of Kumbakarna. The verdict was in favour of Ravana, who cleansed himself of his passion and rose to the level of a pure and valiant hero towards the end.

Old timers among the audience could not help remarking that the speakers could have been less vociferous (some of them seemed to have forgotten that there was a mike in front of them) and established their views with meaningful arguments.