Centenary celebration

THAVIL vidwan N.P. Raghava Pillai.   | Photo Credit: Scanned in Chennai

The centenary of thavil wizard Nachiarkovil N.P. Raghava Pillai (1910-2010) is being celebrated on a grand scale on Sunday, November 14, at SET Mahal in Kumbakonam (on Kamarajar Salai near the bus stand). Born in Nachiarkovil to Nattuvanar Packiriapillai and Kannambal, Raghava Pillai showed unusual laya sense even when he was young. The father wanted him to learn the mridangam but the son was inclined to the thavil.

After initial training under Thiruvalaputhur Pasupathiapillai, Raghava Pillai came under the tutelage of N.T. Meenakshisundaram Pillai. It was gurukulavasam for 11 years at the end of which a thavil vidwan of excellent calibre emerged. So impressed was the guru with his disciple’s talent and demeanour that he offered his daughter Jayalakshmi in marriage to her. Pillai obliged after much persuasion. Marrying the Guru’s daughter was against ethics, he argued.

It was not long before Raghava Pillai was accompanying leading nagaswaram vidwans including Semanarkoil brothers, Tiruveezhimizhalai brothers, Tiruvavaduturai Rajaratinam Pillai and so on. Much sought after, he stole the show but the main vidwans had no complaints. Feted at the global level, he found a special place in the hearts of the rasikas in Srilanka, who honoured him with several titles.

Simple and humble, he delighted in encouraging budding thavil players. The long list of disciples includes Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram Pillai, Yazhpanam Dakshinamurthi, Perumpallam Venkatesan Pillai and Tiruvizhandur Venugopala Pillai. A patriot to the core, it was khadar he always wore. His thavil moved celebrities in all fields such as cinema and politics. When he passed away in 1964 condolence messages poured in from all quarters.

The events on November 14 begin with mangala isai by Nachiarkoil N.R.P. Ravichandran at 6.30 a.m. The curtain comes down with the vocal recital of Nithyasree Mahadevan (8.30-10 p.m.) followed by dinner. The day is packed with discourses and music programmes, the musicians including A.K.C. Natarajan, clarionet at 4 p.m. and Tiruppambaram Brothers, nagaswaram at 5 p.m. and Mandolin Shrinivas at 7 p.m. Raghava Pillai’s grand daughter Saradha Ilangovan presents a Bharatanatyam recital at 6 p.m.

A function has been organised at 10 a.m. when a centenary souvenir will be released by Ko.Si. Mani, Minister for Cooperative Societies. G.R. Mooppanar, Secreatary, Tiruvaiyaru Tyagabrahma Sabha will receive the first copy. A host of dignitaries will speak on the occasion.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 9:25:07 AM |

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