Sunday, March 09, 2014

Thyagaraja Aradhana: An evening of music and dance

Photos and text by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe” ~ Lao Tzu

"Magala Isai" at the beginning of the festival
Saraswathy, Goddess of Wisdom sits above the venue

Five Keerthanams are known as the “Panchrathna Keethnanam”. The “Pancha Rathna Krithis” are sung during the Aradhana. They areJagadananda of Natai Ragam, Dudukugala of Gowla Ragam, Sadinchanae of Arabhi Ragam, Kanakana Ruchira of Varali Ragam andEndharo Mahanu Bhavulu of Sri Ragam.

The Pancharatna Kritis of Thyagaraja are in praise of his beloved deity, God Rama and are extremely skillful and beautiful musical compositions. They are all set in Adi Thalam and each ragam represents the mood of the song and the meaning of its lyrics. They are actually set in the style of a Ragam, Thanam, Pallavi (RTP) with the charanams (stanzas) substituting for the kalpana swaras(improvisatory passages) in the pallavi section of the Ragam, Thalam, Pallavi.

Carnatic Music Festival to celebrate the genius of Sri Thyagarajah was recently held at the Saraswathy Hall in Bambalapitty, which was organized by the Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo in association with the Hindu Society, and Express Newspapers Ceylon Limited. Thyagaraja Aradhana is a rare event to witness, and be a part of it, where many musicians and dancers gathered and performed together. Musicians, vocalists, instrumentalists and percussionists came from all over the country to celebrate.

In this year’s festival, in addition to the musicians, dancers gorgeously performed, while the singers beautifully sang the five Keerthanams.

167th Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana celebrations were held recently in Thiruvaiyaru. Musicians from all over the state gathered, and sat before the Saint’s Samadhi on the banks of river Kaveri, sang “Pancharatna Kritis”, and paid homage to him.

Saint Thyagaraja was born on 4th May 1767 in Thiruvarur in Thanjavur district. He was born to a Telugu Brahmin family as the third son of Ramabrahmam and Seethamma. His father’s was a story teller. His family moved to Thiruvaiyaru soon after Saint Thyagaraja was born. Saint Thyagaraja got married to Parvaty in 1784, when he was 17 years. His wife Parvathy died in 1789, when he was 23 year. He married her sister Kamala in 1790, and got a daughter. Saint Thyagaraja named his daughter Seethalakshmi. It is believed that on 6th January 1847 would be the day when he was expected to embrace Mukthi. He attained Samadhi on “Pushya Bagula Panchami” in Thiruvaiyaru.

Saint Thygaraja was an eminent composer in classical music, poet, and a philosopher. He was an extraordinary personality born to teach humanity through music, and Rama Bhakthi. He saw Rama as a chief, as a saviour of mankind, and as a Lord of whole universe. Saint Thyagaraja praised him, cajoled him, taunted him, served him, and cried for him. Saint Thyagaraja lived with God Rama every moment. The name Thyagaraja means “Prince of Renunciation”.

He studied Sanskrit and astrology. He was very well versed in his mother tongue Telugu. Saint Thyagaraja has composed several Kritis. He made use of 200 ragas to compose different Kritis.

The “Divyanama Sankeerthanas” and “Utsava Samprathaya Kritis” composed by him are melodies. He composed 1,800 Kritis. He has created operas namely “Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam”, “Nowka Chittram” and “SitaRama Vijayam”. He wrote most of the Kritis in Telugu, and the rest in Sanskrit.

Kids corner at the festival

Dance corner at the festival Saraswathy Subramaiam from the Eastern University of Sri Lanka with a modern violin

Music lovers from all walks of life

Tribute to Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal
An eldery music lover enjoys the festival, while sitting on the mat

Crowd pulling musicians adding colour to the festival

Dance depicting one of the "Pancharatna Keerthanams"

Bridging the borders at the festival

Comparing the notes while singing
Paying tribute together with dance and music
Full house festival

Vocalists at the festival
Annual festival attracts many music lovers to gather under one roof to celebrate

Carnatic musicians consider Thyagaraja as their inspiration, source and touchstone of their creativity

Dancers beautifully describing a "Keerthanam"

Music lovers too joined in singlng along the five "Keerthanams"

The choral rendtion of the five songs is an integral feature of the festival

Friday, March 07, 2014

South Asian Women in Media Sri Lanka Chapter urges authorities to investigate crimes committed against women journalists and media workers and ensure their safety

March 8 marks the International Women's Day, a day that recalls and celebrates the women's struggle for equality and recognises the contribution women continue to make for the advancement of their societies.
The United Nations declared 8 March as the International Women's Day in 1975 which continues to be celebrated around the world in many different ways.

According to a recent survey carried out by UKAID, "Globally, women do 60% of the world's work but only earns 10% of the world's income and only own 1% of the world's property," highlighting the economic disparity that exists despite their ever increasing contributions to the advancement of the world. It further stated, "when a woman generates her own income, she reinvests 90% of it in her family and community."
In Sri Lanka too, women have been in the forefront as prime income generators in a variety of spheres, contributing to the growth of the country which is yet to be duly acknowledged.

Despite the advancement women have collectively managed to achieve, as in the rest of South Asia, in Sri Lanka too, safety of women has become a serious concern. It is unfortunate that women are increasingly becoming unsafe, also reflected in the media industry, with women journalists coming under various types of attacks including intimidation, threats, harassment and even murder, reflecting a social malady.

As this year's theme for the  International Women's Day being  "Inspiring Change", the South Asian Women in Media Sri Lanka Chapter urges the authorities to investigate the crimes committed against women journalists and media workers in the past and to ensure better maintenance of law and order in the country which would contribute to make a safe environment for women.

South Asian Women in Media Sri Lanka Chapter