Karnatik for Kids

For kids to enjoy and appreciate Karnatic music : a South-Indian Art Music Form

Dear Budding Musicians,

In this post, we talk about Guru poornima pooja that is conducted at Saint Thyagarajar’s birthplace. Legend has it Bangalore Smt. Nagarathnammal was a rich lady who adopted a son. The son, when he grew up, wished to amass his mother’s wealth. But the Saint composer appeared in the dream of Bangalore Smt. Nagarathnammal , forewarned her of her son’s ill intents and made her donate her wealth to build a temple in his honour at Tiruvaiyaru. The beautiful temple for Sri Thyagabrahmam in the banks of river KAvaerI is shown below.

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Every year in August, Guru Poornima is being celebrated in Tiruvaiyaru as a tribute to Saint Thyagaraja Swamigal. My Guru Smt. Haripriya Ramesh has been actively taking part in this celebration for the last couple of years with a battalion of young children. Recently, she has also been instrumental in forming a syllabus for the festival (please check group renditions below).

This year, the two day festival was held on 19th and 20th of August at the Thyagarajar Sannidhi. The poojai is described by my Guru as a samarpanam(dedication) of what we know to Thyagaraja by budding musicians. This festival does not feature any professional musicians.

On the evening of the 19th, a music quiz program was conducted for all the children. Everyone together rendered AnandAmruthakarshini in rAgam amruthavarshinI at the Pushya mandapam on the banks of river KAvaerI and the rain Gods blessed the children by raining down at 1 AM in the night. After the singing, an Arti was taken for mother KAvaerI.

A total of eight groups of teachers with their kids participated this year. This year’s program agenda (conducted on the 20th) is as given below:

Vishnu Sahasranamam was chanted by young and old as a group. Following this were group renditions by teachers and students.

Group Renditions

  1. Invocation -srI Ganapathi nI – Gowlai
  2. A special invocation krithi to Lord Sri RAmA – maelukovayyaA mammelukO
  3. Sarali, Jantai, Alankarams – few eachIMG_5576
  4. Geethams – srI GananAtha and re re srI rAmA
  5. Swarajathi – rA rA venugOpAlA
  6. Varnam – navarAgamAlikai
  7. Invocation to Guru – Gurulaekha yetuvanti
  8. Pancharatnam – dudukugala
  9. Special honour to Sri RAmA – upachAramu
  10. Utsava sampradaya krithis – a few selected ones.
  11. Kshetra krithis –
    1. TiruvaiyAru- illalO pranathArthi
    2. Tirupathi – tera tEyaga
    3. Sree Rangam – jUtha murArae

Following the group renditions, the eight groups presented 2 rounds of solo performances each totalling 16 songs. Some highlights among the Solo performances were:

  1. gandhamu puyyarugA – which was sung in tisra and chaturashra nadais accompanied by mridangam and ghatam.
  2. DIna janAvana srI rAmA  – which was rendered in a bhajan format.
  3. rAma kOdhanda rAmA – a timeless gem by ThyAgarAjar.
  4. girirAja suthA – rendered on the saxophone by a child.

Other accompaniments included Flute, Violin and Saxophone. An opportunity was provided to all the instrumentalists to show their mettle during the program.

After the day-2 singing was completed, Sri. Raju mama IMG_5581who is a descendant of the Saint, narrated his story for the benefit of the children present at the festival. A you
ng child called Chi. Raghavan performed abhishekam to Thyagabrahmam during the recital of Pancharatna krithi. Finally, the festival concluded with the felicitation of students and teachers who participated in this event.

Here is a photo of my Guru Smt. Haripriya being felicitated. A group rendition of jO jO rAmA was done as a lullaby to the Lord and sItA kalyAna vaibhogame was sung as mangalam.

Apart from the regular Thyagaraja krithis, my Guru also gets special credits for having simplified the following krithis for the easy rendition of children.

  1. vara lIla gAna lOla – set to sankarAbharanam in a way similar to nottu swarams.
  2. pUla pAnbu – set to chakravAkam as against the original Ahiri for kids.

While talking about these improvisations to Sri. Raju mama, he was highly appreciative of her efforts and mentioned that the great Guru Thyagarajar would be immensely pleased with the efforts to simplify some of his complex creations for children to enjoy.

As a footnote, anyone who is interested to help the temple trust is able to do so by donating in person. There is no much advertisement or publicity for all the good promotional work that this trust is performing neither do they request for specific amounts of money as donation. So when you are there the next time, do meet Sri. Raju mama and help support their musical tradition for kids to cherish.

Sairam,

KalpakaKamakshi