Oachira V. Sivadasan and Prasanna Sivadasan are tuned to each other
The husband wife team of Oachira V.Sivadasan and Prasanna Sivadasan are familiar faces to ardent fans of Nadaswaram music. This couple, who has been performing together for over a decade have contributed to the popularity of this wind instrument. Both Prasanna and Sivadasan were fortunate to have been born into families that have a musical background. Prasanna belongs to a family in which "everybody sang but none played the Nadaswaram." Sivadasan's father Velayudhan Pillai, who happens to be Prasanna's uncle played the Nadaswaram at Oachira Shiva temple and it was he who initiated them into the art. Says Sivadasan, "I first started on thavil and my elder brother on the Nadaswaram. However, we sort of switched places and I started playing the Nadaswaram while my brother played the thavil."Sivadasan started his training at the age of 11 under this father and thereafter went to Madurai where he was taught by Madurai P.Chinna Thambiyar Pillai for eight years. After initial training under her uncle, Prasanna underwent training for two years under Madurai Govinda Raj. Prasanna has a four-year `Gana Bhushanam' course certificate in vocal music from Madras University.
Though both Sivadasan and Prasanna have performed solo, they started performing together in 1991. Performances have taken them to all major temples in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and also to Bangalore, Calcutta, Mantralayam, Puttapparuthi and Singapore. The couple has also performed in countless weddings. Says Sivadasan, "The Nadaswaram being a `mangala vadyam' is mandatory for all auspicious occasions." Adds Prasanna, "People, especially women, believe that weddings are more auspicious if we perform together." For their performances, they have been rewarded with numerous tokens of appreciations. Say the couple, "In all our performances across Tamil Nadu, we have always received good encouragement, positive feedback and appreciation." While Prasanna admits that playing the Nadaswaram for hours at a stretch requires good health and lung control, she makes light of the fact that she is into an essentially male domain. For breath control and health, Prasanna has taken up yoga while Sivadasan practises karate to keep himself fit.
According to Prasanna the ideal age to start learning the Nadaswaram is at 12 years. She goes on to add that it will take at least five years of training coupled with practice to attain some level of perfection in playing the instrument. REMA SUNDAR