Finance expert-cum-bhajan singer raising funds for lockdown-hit artistes

Ramesh Subramanian  

Ramesh Subramanian likes to call himself “Kolkatar chhele” (boy from Kolkata), having been born and raised in the Tollygunge area of the city. He moved to Chennai — then Madras — when he was 17, and today, at the age of 47, he is an expert in finance and accounting, having studied at UCLA, Harvard and Stanford.

But finance is his day job. Mr. Subramanian is also a bhajan artiste, performing namasankeerthanam across India and the world for the past 28 years despite his professional commitments. Today he is doing his bit for fellow artistes, whose livelihood depends solely on performances, which now stand cancelled or postponed indefinitely due to the lockdown.

Also read: Mathura folk artistes curse virus in Braj Bhasha, spread awareness through music

It was on his initiative that ‘Naamasankeerthanam’, a WhatsApp group of 65 people drawn from across the globe, decided to raise funds for full-time bhajan artistes, including vocalists, mridangam players and dholak players.

“Due to the COVID-19 situation, programmes of these artistes have been cancelled for the next three months. As a result, these people are finding it difficult to run their families.

“There are about 1,000 such people, of which we have so far been able to help 80 with amounts ranging from ₹7000 to ₹10,000 each, totally disbursing about ₹7,50,000 within a span of one week starting April 2, on the auspicious day of Ramanavami,” Mr. Subramanian told The Hindu.

‘Most deserving’

“We were able to do this due to the commitments we received from over 100 people from across India, the U.K. and the UAE. These are people within the WhatsApp group or connected with them.

“We kept the process transparent by asking sponsors to directly transfer funds to beneficiaries.

“Albeit a logistical challenge, we chose this path to keep questions at bay. The artistes were chosen by recommendations from various quarters and cross-validated to ensure they were indeed the most deserving,” he said.

“A few sponsors have already indicated that they would be willing to make donations for the month of May as well.

The WhatsApp group was originally formed by a small group of bhajan enthusiasts and performers to deliberate upon the originally-prescribed format (or sampradaya) of bhajans and to share audio clippings.

To raise funds, the group formed a core team that included Shankar Hariharan, C.S. Hariharan, S. Krishnagopal, Bombay Anand, Melarcode Ravi, Palghat Karthik, Palghat Saji, Dubai Mahadevan and Palghat M.R. Ramachandran.

The tradition of Namasankeerthanam goes back by more than 300 years and is said to have been founded by the trinity of Bodhendhra Saraswathi, Sridhara Ayyavaal and Sathguru Swamigal.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 8:22:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/finance-expert-cum-bhajan-singer-raising-funds-for-lockdown-hit-artistes/article31409350.ece

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