Devotion The Sabarimala season has started bringing with it songs dedicated to the deity. S.SHIVPPRASADH

The Chennai music and dance festival coincides with the Sabarimala season and artistes never fail to include a song on Ayyappa. Are there favourites and how do they plan the itinerary? Here is the response from a few musicians:

Every year, P. UNNIKRISHNAN releases a CD on Ayyappa. ‘Sabarimalai Va Charanam Solli Va,’ his latest, has songs composed by Manachanallur Giridharan and produced by Gaananjali Recordings. The album has a song on ‘Mukkal vattam’ where Ayyappan learnt kalari before the Lord went to wage war against Mahishi and Vaavar. “‘Harivarasanam,’ strikes a chord with the audience straight away,” says Unni. “I have sung it in three styles and all have been well-received,” he adds.

VANI JAYARAM: My cassette series, released by Vani Music Co., includes ‘Ambigai varuvaal’, ‘Durga Lakshmi Saraswathi’ and so on that has lyrics written and tuned by Veeramani Somu. She recalls her own evergreen hits such as ‘Thiruvaabaranam chaarthiya ninmeni kanikaanenum Ayyappa’ sung in 1970 for HMV and ‘Sabareesan paamalai’ sung with P. Jayachandran for Sruthilaya.

SRIRAM and ANOORADHA: ‘Hari Hara puthran’ of Muthuswamy Dikshitar in Vasantha is something special. This song is in Vilambakala and therefore contemplative. Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Appan avadharitha kadhaamritham’ in Kharaharapriya and ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ (Bilahari) are the other songs we will be singing.

TRICHUR BROTHERS : This season, our list will include ‘Kanivodu nammai izhukkum kanthamalai’ in Dharmavati, ‘Swamy en jeeva veenai’ in Malayamarutham and pallavis such as ‘Vikasitha mukham subha bala pradham Hari Hara Sudhan sadhaa bajeham’.

NITHYASREE MAHADEVAN : I grew up listening to Veeramani’s songs on Lord Ayyappa. I will be singing ‘Varavendum pon Aiyanae’, in Revati, ‘Maniyaana oru paadal vendum adhu Manikandan meedhu irukavendum’, in Mohanam, apart from the songs of Papanasam Sivan.

SHANKAR MAHADEVAN : My teacher T.R. Balamani had composed in Madhu Ghos, a rare raga, ‘Pandhala Raja Kumara Sree Sabareesaa’ that I always sing. ‘Endrendrum Ayyappa,’ a song tuned by Veeramani Somu, has a portion that has to be rendered in one breath. When I sing ‘Swamiye Ayyappo’ and ‘Pallikattu Sabarimalaikku’ at the Delhi Ayyappa Samajam, the response is fantastic. I’m waiting for an opportunity to visit Sabarimala.