Thursday, December 28, 2006

Margazhi maasam, Kolams and Kutcheris...

Margazhi maasam (or the month of Margazhi under the tamil calendar) began about a couple of weeks back. Margazhi is considered quite holy and temples generally register brisk attendance during this month! Margazhi evokes a lot of childhood memories in me especially of getting up very early in the mornings and having a bath, reciting Thiruppavai and going to the nearby temple of Lord Venkateshwara (or Perumal Kovil, as one called it). While getting up early and reciting Thiruppavai weren’t things which I did out of choice, I did goto the Perumal Kovil rather willingly. Before you jump to the conclusion that I am very religious, let me clarify that my motives in going to the temple were entirely ulterior. I hardly remember having paid any visit to the Lord and praying before Him during such visits, the purpose of my visit being solely the prasadam which was on offer, hot pongal, sundal and the like :-) Of course, things have changed a lot over the years. I don’t even remember when was the last time I recited Thiruppavai or went to the Perumal Kovil for prasadam. However, there is a raging war going on at home these days between my dad and me, as he seems hell bent on brushing up my Thiruppavai proficiency!! Promptly at 5.45 every morning he’s been playing a Thiruppavai cassette at very loud volume so that the whole neighbourhood seems to wake up to the divine compositions! As of now, we are still negotiating as to what is the optimum volume at which one can play music so early in the mornings!

Margazhi also means kolams and people seem to kind of get into a frenzy about them during this month. Those of you who have known me here would know that I don’t take kindly to kolams and that they evoke strong feelings in me. And as if to add insult to injury, some neighbourhood newspapers have even announced Kolam drawing contests!! Hence I have strictly resolved not to venture early in the mornings on my bike atleast till 7AM during this month. However, much to my dismay, I now find that a lot of young girls and women who are interested in exhibiting their artistic bent of mind through kolams are quite lazy and don’t seem interested in getting up early in the mornings (which is standard procedure laid down in the manuals!) for drawing the kolams. Instead I find that they draw these kolams late at night around 10 – 11 PM before going to bed. This leads to a situation where I’m now at serious risk of getting ambushed on my way back from work!!! Don’t you think that is quite unfair to me? ;-)

Margazhi also means the Kutcheri (music concert) season in Madras, which is quite unique to the city! The city abounds in Sabhas which vie with one another to catch the patronage of the rasikas. The Kutcheri season also enables the Maamis to display their kanjeevarams, benares silks and the like!! Nothing like flaunting your newest Pattu podavai with a superior look in your face! The Kutcheri season also sees the mushrooming of canteens outside the sabhas and more often than not, the crowd in these canteens is much more than the crowd inside for the kutcheri!! Nevertheless, the season definitely whets the appetite of the connoisseurs of classical music! While I endeavour to catch a few kutcheris every year without much success, the score has been much better this year. Though I missed the first week of the season because of that plague called work, I did manage to catch three kutcheris so far during the second week! It is quite a different world at these kutcheris with long winding alapanais and thani avarthanams interspersed with “sabash” and ‘baley” from the performers as well as the audience!! Though tons and tons of newsprint have been used up this year in reporting the kutcheri season, it is quite sad to see that the audience interest is definitely on the wane. While the big names do bring in the crowds, the concerts of lesser known artistes hardly see any attendance apart from the office bearers of the concerned sabha and family members of the artistes! I sincerely suggest that a lot of people who waste their time drawing kolams and generally being a nuisance to the public, can spend their time in attending such concerts and enhancing their musical knowledge :-)

Being the last post of mine for this year, I’d like to wish all of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year!! I shall be back to torture you all with more of this crap in the coming year :-)