NEWS & NOTES
Bringing Back old Tiruvaiyaru Music in Sacred Spaces - V.R. DEVIKA A religion and culture editor, a psychotherapist, a poet, a housewife, and a writer – women formidable by any standard – made great company! We made a motley group with a musicologist from the Netherlands travelling to witness the first "Tiruvaiyaru on Kaveri – a festival of Sacred Music" organised by Chennai based Prakriti Foundation. Though associated with Prakriti Foundation, as its cultural coordinator from its inception, this time I was going only as part of the audience as I did not play any role in the organization of the festival. Ranvir Shah, founder of Prakriti Foundation was standing in the scorching sun of Tiruvaiyaru as he got the Panchanadeeswara temple cleaned for Bombay Jayashri’s concert. Theatre actor and director Pravin Kumar worked on the mood lighting. Together they created discreet lighting on the temple gopuram which was the backdrop for the concert and soft lighting on the musicians. The many bronze lamps of varying sizes that Ranvir had carted from Chennai were lit in front of the dais. Ranvir wanted to host three kutcheri-s at three different and unique venues in the town. So on Day One (February 26), Bombay Jayashri performed at the Sree Panchanadeeswara Temple, sitting on a stage surrounded by glowing earthen lamps. She sang compositions on Siva. The silence and the stillness and the sense of peace that pervaded the Panchanadeeswara temple were reflected in the soulful music of Jayashri. Particularly haunting was the Dwijavanti Akhilandeswari. Pravin and the sound expert Kalai Selvan moved all the equipment after the concert to Pushya Mandapa by the Kaveri for Jayanthi Kumaresh’s veena concert the next day (February 27).
The Royal Heroine of Kathakali - K.K. GOPALAKRISHNAN Septuagenarian Kottakkal Sivaraman, the Kathakali actor renowned for his heroine roles, is the recipient of the first Mali-Karnasapadam award, instituted by the Mali Foundation in memory of the late Mali V. Madhavan Nair, for his lifetime contributions to Kathakali. Kottakkal Sivaraman is 72. Discharged from hospital after a couple of months of chikan guniya, he is well on his way to recovery. The man who delighted Kathakali followers for over five decades felt let down that they stayed away in his moment of suffering. "This is the fate of any Kathakali artist in Kerala", he says, sitting on the veranda of his house, surrounded by nature, in Karalmanna of Palakkad district. It was through Sivaraman, the female characters of Kathakali, traditionally donned by men, earned recognition and equal status with male characters, especially in the northern school of the art. Advancing years have compelled him to substantially limit his performances and retire from most of his celebrated roles, except that of Damayanti in Nalacharitam and Kunti in Karnasapadam.