Tirukkural as way of life

Dr. Chellammal propagates the couplets in myriad ways.

Updated - April 23, 2010 04:39 pm IST

Published - April 22, 2010 09:11 pm IST

Chellammal-Karagam Dance at Kottur. Photo: M. Karunakaran

Chellammal-Karagam Dance at Kottur. Photo: M. Karunakaran

Tirukkural, the couplet collection of Tiruvalluvar has many champions spreading its fame and relevance far and wide. Teacher Chellamma has made significant contribution by conveying the messages embedded in the verses through her lectures, write-ups, discourses, dance presentations and so on. With a doctorate in the subject and author of several works, she has been honoured with titles and awards by various forums.

Dr. Chellamma participated in the World Tamil Conference held in Malaysia and visited Singapore to give lectures and present shows. Recently Chellammal went on a tour of Malaysia again to speak on the various concepts Tiruvalluvar has tackled through the 1,330 couplets. The highlight was her dance carrying three lamps, one on her head and one in each hand, which was appreciated. “Apart from setting the verses to tune I compose songs on Tirukkural and sing them during my presentations. The three lamps represent the three sections of Tirukkuaral,” the scholar explains.

“I breathe Tirukkural,” says a passionate Chellammal. It was not roses all the way. “I had to face hurdles, challenges and even insults. But nothing has deterred me. The marriages of my children were conducted on the lines of Tirukkural. At 62, I can sing and dance without effort since I take care of my body so that I can serve the cause better,” she says with simplicity. A karagam expert, she can balance the pot adroitly even as her feet move to the beat of the melam.

Retirement has not stopped her from teaching. Eager pupils always find in her a dedicated mentor. Music, dance, oratory… she is ready to impart the skill if there are takers.

As crowning glory, Chellammal has installed a staute of Thiruvalluvar in her house, called ‘Tirukkural Illam’ at Kottur. The statue will be unveiled on Sunday, April 25, 4 p.m. The function will be presided over by R.M. Veerappan. Thol. Tirumavalavan will unveil the statue in the presence of a host of scholars and dignitaries.

“It has been my dream to install a statue of Tiruvalluvar; it was my request to name the area after the poet. The project has the whole-hearted support of my family. K. Mohanraj, Tirukkural ambassador, who has encouraged me, will present a special address,” Dr. Chellammal says. She plans to visit schools and orphanages and teach Tirukkural. “It should become a way of life. What better way than to catch them young,” exclaims Chellammal.

Venue: Tirukkural Illam, 6/35, First Street, Tiruvalluvar Nagar, Kottur (via Adyar, Gandimantapam, Nandanam). Phone: 43066524.

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