The Sacred Music Festival is not just another music festival. The organisers could have always chosen to conduct this festival in a big city. Why Tiruvaiyaru? According to Ranvir Shah, who runs Prakriti Foundation, Tiruvaiyaru has been a cultural centre for the past several centuries.
Except for the annual Tyagaraja Aradhana and the Sapthasthaana festival, there is no other cultural activity happening there.
Even tourists who come to Thanjavur spend a day there and leave for Madurai. The potential for tourism in Tiruvaiyaru should be explored. With its rich historical, architectural and musical heritage, it should find a more important place in the cultural map of the world.
Development of tourism means the development of the economy of the place. To achieve this, historical places should be kept clean. Literature and photographs about the places and important spots should be made available to tourists. The public, especially the younger lot, should work together with voluntary organisations to preserve our heritage.
As part of creating awareness towards cleaning up the Cauvery, Cauvery Puja on the line of Ganga Puja is organised every year during the festival at Pushya Mantapa Ghat. Priests chant slokas and Harati is performed and all the guests pour water into the river from their pots. This year, at the end of the puja, a lady holding plastic bottles, addressed the gathering at the top of her voice… “I am from the birth place of the Cauvery. Don't pollute the river by throwing plastic in it.” She was Suma Ponnamma of Siddhapura, Kodagu district. She is part of an association which is working for the protection of Coorg wildlife and Nature. Every year after the tourist season is over, the group cleans the areas from Bhagamandala to Talacauvery by collecting plastic rubbish strewn everywhere.
As I climbed the steps after the Cauvery puja, several questions arose in my mind - ‘Will all this happen here?' ‘Is it possible?' ‘Will the people be motivated?'
When I looked up, I noticed Shivendra Raja Bhonsle, the eight-year old son of the senior Prince of Thanjavur Palace, present with his mother. I went up to him and asked, ‘What did you learn from the puja?'
He replied in a soft voice, ‘We should not throw any rubbish into the river.'