CHENNAI:As we entered Hanumantha Road — a quaint sub-lane in Royapettah, a 75-year-old house welcomed the city’s cultural buffs for an evening of anecdotes and music of famous temple town of Srirangam. There were oil-lit lamps, a mic-less platform, groups of people seated in the main room, along with several others on the verandah and staircase, while some peeped through the widow to catch a glimpse of the event.
A 60-year-old who sat on the jamakalam on the verandah said, “I feel nostalgic. Those days, we used to gather in a house to listen to old stories once in a week. It used to be lit with oil-lamps and we used to sit around the narrator or wherever found place.”
The event curated by ARTery, a city-based art and cultural portal, in association with Sukrtam Foundations, highlighted the little-known nuggets about Srirangam. Ramanathan N Iyer, founder, ARTery, shared, “We have been doing programmes around the city but we wanted to focus on Thanjavur Periya Koil, Srirangam and Thiruvarur. ”
Madhusudhanan Kalaichelvan, an architect whose interests range from Tamil epigraphy to Araiyar Sevai, narrated, “There are several aspects that make Srirangam special including the processions, the main deity’s consorts, Bramhotsavam and of course, the different prakharas.” The Panguni Utaram festival is the most talked about event and is said to have been celebrated across major cities in the Chera, Chozha and Pandya dynasties. The festival is more like a local holiday and is still celebrated with pomp,”
Madhusudhanan shared as Vidushi K Gayathri, singer, rendered an Azhvar composition As pictures of famous Chitrai Veedhi was projected on screen, a septuagenarian smiles, “During the bramhotsavam, the place looks like a painting. Till today, at least two utsavams happen every day — they say that there are utsavams for 330 days in a year. There is mad rush for Aadi Bramhotsavam and Chitirai Thirunal!” he exclaimed.
From talking about the prakaras that make up the temple to vehicles of the main deity – Ranganathar, Madhusudhanan explained, “Killi koondu is one famous vaahanam of Ranganatha and the Thandha Kursi (chair) was extremely famous, but it doesn’t exist anymore.”
As the lecture-concert took the audience on a virtual tour around the prakaras a young spectator added, “There need to be more such talks about temple architecture and history. It’s interesting and more young people need to take part in it. My favourite part of the talk was about ‘Thulluka Nachaiyar’… Ranganathas Muslim consort. Though historians say otherwise, and don’t agree to the records of the temple, it’s interesting to see that an inter-religion bond seemed more acceptable back then.”