Dance

Dedicated to Thevaram

Kanakaand her team during their Bharatanatyam performane held recently at the Raja Annamalai Mandram in Chennai. Photo: M. Vedhan.  

If Siva is the Cosmic dancer, the Thevaram hymns give enough stories of Him for dancers to interpret. The Panniru Tirumurai contains many enlightening stories of Siva. A dance programme lending interpretation to Tirumurai featured Tiruveezhimizhalai S. Kanaka and her students. The programme, which took place at Raja Annamalai Mandram, Chennai, was sponsored by Aranarul Trust.

Kanaka’s father, Dr. R. Subramaniam, a follower of Mahaperiyava, sowed the seeds, the dancer said in a conversation. “He was asked by Mahaperiyava to learn Thevaram and I was blessed to propagate the divine hymns through my presentations,” she added. She explained how she uses a few Thevaram panns such as Nattapadai (Gambhira Nattai raga) and Thakkesi (Khambodi) in her dance music. Besides passing on her knowledge to students at her dance school, she also presents music recitals.

The spirituality of Thirugnanasambandhar, Appar and Sundarar struck a chord as Kanaka and her students performed. The storytelling provided the edge.

After Pushpanjali, the group presented Pottri Agaval (Gambhira Nattai), recreating stories such as Meenakshi Kalyanam.

Choosing to showcase Thiruveezhimizhalai Kshetram, where Sambandhar sang ‘Eerai Mudhalondrai,’ a prayer to Siva who blessed Maha Vishnu, the group traced the story.

Vishnu, in order to get Sudarshana Chakra, composed Panchakshara Sahasranamamam and worshipped Siva with 1,000 lotus flowers chanting the verses.

One day, while performing the puja, Vishnu found a lotus missing and simply placed His right eye at Siva’s feet. Pleased, Siva appeared and gave Vishnu not only the Sudarshana Chakra but also His right eye. In praise of this Lord Kanaka's students performed ‘Eerai Mudhalondrai,’ adding to it tales from the Panchabutha temples of Kanchipuram, Kalahasti, Tiruvanaikaval, Tiruvannamalai and Chidambaram.

Next came a verse from Thiru Kolaru Pathigam, ‘Veyuru Tholibangan,’ in a varnam format by Kanaka. She revealed that there was no charanam to the composition and she did not wish to add lines to Sambandar’s verse. She had split the varnam into four lines, each followed by a jati pattern composed by Nagai P. Sriram.

The varnam showcased Kanaka’s skill as a dancer. But she would do well if she could improve on her abhinaya.

Incidentally, Kolaru Padhigam has an interesting background. , Meeting Sambandar at Thirumaraikkadu, queen Mangaiyarkarasi and her Minister, both Siva devotees, asked him to visit the kingdom, which was dominated by people of other religions.

When Gnanasambandar expressed his intention to visit the place to Appar, the latter wondered whether he should venture into a hostile territory and that the stars were inauspicious. By rendering ‘Veyuru Tholibhangan,’ Sambandhar convinced Appar that no bad omen would befall the devotees of Siva, and that every day was an auspicious day.

After the varnam, the enthusiastic group rendered a few more verses on Siva.

The concert ended with ‘Vazhga Andanar,’ the Amritavarshini thillana.

The accompanists were T.H. Thiyagarajan (vocal), Nagai P. Sriram (mridangam), Jayashree Ramanathan (Nattuvangam) and K. Ganesan (violin).

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 8:00:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/pegged-on-the-thirumurai-verses/article8560851.ece

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