Srivilliputur comes to the city in all its native flavour


Chennaiyil Srivilliputur, to be celebrated on November 22 and 23, tries to fathom the mysticism of Andal’s works.

Geographical boundaries matter little when it comes to music or art, so that it becomes possible to replicate an Indian celebration in the U.S. with the same fervour. That’s why we have a Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana. Closer home, we have had Chennaiyil Tiruvaiyaru.

But can we have Srivilliputur in Chennai? To celebrate Andal’s works, to attempt to fathom the mysticism of her works and to be lost in the lyricism of her works is to be transported intellectually and emotionally to Srivilliputur. That’s what M.V. Anantapadmanabhachariar has planned and Chennaiyil Srivilliputur will be celebrated in Asthika Samajam, Venus Colony, on November 22 and 23. The programmes begin at 1 p.m. on both days.

Anantapadmanabhachariar runs an organisation called SARAN, short for Sampradaya Anushtana Rakshana Abhimaan. The aim of SARAN is to get youngsters interested in our tradition. By 2018, I hope SARAN will have 10 lakh members. 2017 is the 1000th birth anniversary of Ramanuja, and 2018 is the 750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desika, and I think the biggest tribute to them would be to take their message to the next generation. And what better way to attract the young than through the works of Andal, for after all Andal is the only young one among Azhwars.

There will be an exhibition of dolls depicting Andal’s life, and scenes that reflect her pasurams. Another novelty is the Tiruppavai Akshara Maalai. It consists of a pictorial composition of every letter in the 30 Tiruppavai verses. The sketches are done by a bank officer from Tiruchi.

On the first day, up and coming artiste Sandhya will sing verses from Nachiar Tirumozhi. Anita Guha will then present a Bharatanatyam recital based on Tiruppavai, with novel interpretations of the verses by Anantapadmanabhachariar. He says Andal was a pioneer in introducing dramatic elements in her verses.

So it logically follows from this that one of the items on Saturday is a short skit. Titled ‘Manathukkiniyaan’, it is in the form of a conversation between three women, on whether manathukkiniyaan is Rama, Krishna or Narasimha. The dialogues are all lines from Andal’s works. Then follows a debate on which is superior - the Gita or Andal’s works?

An ensemble

On Sunday, the programme begins with a musical rendering of ‘Pasurappadi Ramayanam,’ with M.A. Venkatakrishnan giving the explanations, followed by a fusion presentation of Pasurams. The ensemble will have keyboard, konnakkol, mridangam, drums, vocal and Vedic chanting.

There will be a debate on the second day, the topic being whether religious issues or social issues are predominant in Andal’s works. Arrangements have also been made for catering. But if one tries to bring Srivilliputur to Chennai, naturally the question of ‘what about palkhova?’ arises. That’s going to be available as also the famous Srivilliputur vasanai podi!

This year’s programme is only a rehearsal for next year, says Anantapadmanabhachariar. Next year, he wants to make it a much bigger event and organise it in a larger venue.

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