Three Indian art forms enter Guinness World Records

Dedicated to Tyagaraja, a marathon team effort brought the record home in three categories

Saxophone artiste E.R. Janardhan is on cloud nine. The initiative that the Thyagayya Channel, a part of Thyagayya Charitable Trust, has borne fruit with three Indian performing art forms entering the Guinness World Records. Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi were presented in a unique show of solidarity, all three categories winning the contest for the maximum number of performers on a single stage.

Guinness Certificates

Guinness Certificates  

“It was a three-year plan, which yielded result thanks to the efforts and cooperation of leading artistes such as Sudha Raghunathan, A. Kanyakumari, Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala and Krishnamurthi,” says Janardhanan, a disciple of Kadri Gopalnath and a busy performer and sought after teacher. What prompted him to think of a Guinness? “It has never been attempted before and the Trust wanted to turn the attention of art lovers at the global level,” says Janardhan. Each participant got a certificate. According to Janardhan, that would give them great boost because participation required a standard in terms of talent and presentation.

Guinness Certificates being handed over to the musicians

Guinness Certificates being handed over to the musicians  

The show originally planned in December did not take place because of the CAA agitations. The atmosphere was not conducive for the jury to travel. On February 1, the landmark event took place at Ramachandra Convention Centre, Chennai and all the three Indian contingents aced the tough test.

Says Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala: “It was a year-long effort, which culminated in a cliffhanger like situation. With the jury members walking up and down as the dancers performed, we were anxious.” The judges were not experts in the subject but knew what was required to make the grade. Their trained eyes could catch any lapse or faux pas. The category was the biggest ever learning session. Parvathi counselled the participants, whose age ranged from 5-50, to calm them down. “They were nervous. The given song was ‘Entaro Mahanubhavulu’, not easy to perform. They had practised for six months but on that day were overwhelmed by the crowd and the venue,” adds Parvathi, who had choreographed the Tyagaraja Pancharatnam. M.V.N. Murthy and Krishnakumar were the Kuchipudi experts, who trained the band, largest among the three at 1,200.

“Most of them were from Andhra and to them impressing a Chennai audience and more importantly, an international panel was forbidding. Having come that far, we had to put our best foot forward. The dancers in front did very well but those in the deeper rows had to match the quality. Huge screens showed the choreography – pallavi, anupallavi and charanam in that order – and the participants had to repeat,” explains Parvathi.

‘Entaro’ with all those charanams is not easy to present. “Tough task and I was a taskmaster,” laughs Parvathi. “Because it was a golden opportunity to be a part of a golden moment. Winning or losing didn’t matter, we wanted togive our best,” she says. The dancers understood and rose to the occasion.

“The minutes before the announcement were literally electrifying. Everybody waited with a prayer on their lips. When it was announced that with … candidates, we were the largest Bharatanatyam group to learn, the hall erupted,” she says describing the moment.

Dedication to Tyagaraja

“Entire credit to Janardhan for this dream come true. The Trust is the result of his dedication to Tyagaraja Swamy and without the Trust, this collective achievement wouldn’t have been possible,” says A. Kanyakumari, who was one of the frontline participants, along with T.V. Gopalakrishnan, Sudha Raghunathan and Unnikrishnan. “He worked tirelessly for this, spent his own money. He persevered after the event was cancelled on December 29. As elders, we just guided and encouraged him. I was especially moved that 95-year old Annavarappu Ramaswamy travelled all the way from Vijayawada to be present,” she says.

Kanyakumari underlines that the record did not come easy. “Headcount did matter but participation was mandatory. Everybody had to sing. Two senior musicians monitored the performance. We were informed later that several observers unobtrusively watched our performance. It was after all of them gave a clean chit that the announcement was made,” she explains.

Three Indian art forms enter Guinness World Records

A part of ICMDA (International Carnatic Music and Dance Association), Thyagayya Charitable Trust was started in 2017 by Janardhan to propagate Carnatic music and serve society through community work and music events. Thyagayya TV, an offshoot of the Trust is a 24/7 channel streaming cultural events, especially Carnatic music. “This was started in order to give opportunities to aspiring musicians and reach programmes to drawing rooms. Many programmes during the recent Chennai Music Season were telecast,” says Janardhan.

Constantly on the move, Janardhan travels to many countries to perform and conduct workshops. “The money earned is ploughed back into music.

“We musicians owe everything to Tyagaraja Swamy. The Trust and Channel are ways to pay tribute to him. The Guinness recognition is his blessing,” says Janardhan, whose ultimate aim is to build a Manimantapam for the bard in Tiruvaiyaru.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:28:28 AM |

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