History & Culture

Exclusive Thirumurai Thevaram patashala in Chidambaram

Students at the Patashala.

Students at the Patashala.   | Photo Credit: S. Prabhu

For young Saivite scholars, the exclusive Thirumurai Patashala in Chidambaram, is a boon

While Veda Patashalas have sprung up across the State in recent years, there has been a dearth of Thirumurai Patashalas. Currently there are only 120 odhuvars, who have graduated through the five-year Gurukulam model of Thirumurai education, a number that is less than half of the 274 Padal Petra Sthalams, hailed by Saivite saint-poets.

Historically, the kings revered odhuvars and ackonwledged their significant contribution. Under royal patronage, the odhuvars gained prominence. However, over the years, low income and cutting down on provisions that were once handed out in large quantities, the number of odhuvars began dwindling drastically. Most of the new generation odhuvars prefer the three- year course offered by music schools as against the traditional gurukulam model of the Thevaram Patashalas.

Fifteen years ago, S. Manivasagan, an entrepreneur from Chennai, was captivated by the Tirumurai rendition of the odhuvars and decided to contribute towards the betterment of the community.

Trust for odhuvars

He formed the Aalavai Annal Trust to help the odhuvars, especially those attached to temples in remote areas.

As a first step, Manivasagan brought together odhuvars from across the State to participate in kumbabishekams. He also got them to render the sacred verses during temple processions, particularly during Brahmotsavams.

With an aim to preserve the tradition, Manivasagan started the Thirumurai Patashala six years ago in Chidambaram. He roped in Muthukumaran Odhuvar, who had been at the Madurai Meenakshi temple for over a decade, to be a member of the Trust. Sivakumar Odhuvar, who is at the Mayuranathar temple, Mayiladuthurai, joined the Thirumurai Patashala as the Acharya.

For the last six years, the Trust has been busy choosing interested candidates and initiating them into Tirumurai. The day at the patashala starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 9.30 p.m. Interested students have to undergo a voice test before seeking admission.

Every Margazhi, a group of 20 students are taken on a ten-day trip to the Padal Petra Sthalams, where they recite the relevant verses sung by the saint-poets.

Muthukumaran Odhuvar says that there are great opportunities awaiting young odhuvars. “Earlier, there were many odhuvars at ancient Thevaram temples and they were given immense prominence. But now as most of the Padal Petra Sthalams do not have even one odhuvar, efforts are being made to revive this beautiful tradition by offering training.”

Muthukumaran Odhuvar

Muthukumaran Odhuvar  

Nagaswaram recital, chanting of Vedas and geetham were part of daily rituals in temples, of which the Tirumurai presentation by the odhuvars was an important component.

Muthukumaran Odhuvar is hopeful that the HR & CE Department will appoint odhuvars at Padal Petra Sthalams and bring back this traditional practise.

At an event held in December, odhuvars from across the state gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the biggest Thirumurai Patashala, near the historical Ilamaiyaakinar temple in Chidambaram.

Those interested to contribute can call, 93801 63791/99447 90380.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 7:39:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/exclusive-thirumurai-thevaram-patashala-in-chidambaram/article30809582.ece

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