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First Annual Thyagaraja Aradhana At Chinmaya Mission Boston

Sumana Rao

Glorious sunshine, a perfect spring day in the month of January, a beautiful temple - what more could one ask for?

The Thyagaraja Aradhana in Chinmaya Mission Boston started with the rendering of Pancharatna Krithis at 9 am on 28th January by music teachers and students, while the temple priest Pundit Srinivasa Shastri performed the Rama Abhishekam. As people walked in to the temple to participate in this event, they felt nostalgic about the annual event that takes place in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamilnadu.

After a 30-minute break, the audience gathered in the state-of-the art auditorium for individual and group performances by the students of local teachers with a 30-minute time slot per teacher. About 130 students took part with great enthusiasm. The commitment of the teachers to instill a love for music in their students was commendable. The place came alive with the sound of music and laughter of children dressed in colorful traditional Indian clothes. Throughout the day, from 10 am to 3 pm, the volunteers of Chinmaya Mission were serving delicious Puliyodara and Yogurt Rice.

Around 4 pm, more people came in to attend the two featured concerts of the day. The first one was a Veena Concert by the Veena teacher and the Cultural Co-ordinator of Chinmaya Mission, Smt. Durga Krishnan, accompanied by Sri. Gowrishankar on the Mrudangam.  Durga Krishnan dedicated this concert to her two Gurus, the late Veena vidwan Dr. Chittibabu and her current Guru Sri Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. The whole concert consisted of Saint Thyagaraja's compositions to go with the theme of the day. Durga Krishnan gave a brief explanation on Thyagaraja's pilgrimage and the Pancha Rathna Kritis he composed during that time in Thiruvottriyur, Kovur, Srirangam and Lalgudi. She started the concert at 4.15 pm with the kriti Eesa Pahimam from the Lalgudi Pancharathna in ragam Kalyani set to Rupaka talam. There was brief alapana in Kalyani before the kriti, followed by brisk swara kalpanas in some interesting mathematical patterns. Next she played the kriti Giripai Nelaku in Sahana set to Adi talam. This rare krithi and probably the last song composed by the great saint before he attained Samadhi just five days after, was very melodiously played by the artist. This was followed by a brisk kriti Ananda Saagara in the ragam Garudadhwani that had an intriguing chittai swaram composed by Dr. Chittibabu. The main item of the concert was Needu Charanamule in Simhendra Madhyamam set to Misra Chapu talam. Durga Krishnan played the alapana of this ragam along with a short thanam, the kriti followed by swarakalpana. Sri. Gaurishankar performed a brief but brisk thani (solo) at the end of the kriti. The concert then ended with Ninnuvina in Navarasa Kannada that was popularized by her Guru Dr. Chittibabu. The audience sat mesmerized listening to the soulful music played by Durga Krishnan. Although short, this concert will be remembered for a very long time by all who attended.

After an hour of scintillating performance by Durga Krishnan, the audience was in for more treat. Deepa Srinath, a young and vibrant dancer from Bangalore, and a relatively new face to Boston appeared on stage, while Sita Kalyanam was a perfect ending to the first Thyagaraja Aradhana celebrations in Chinmaya Mission Boston.

May the lamp of music lit by the great legends keep burning brightly and spread love and bhakthi throughout the world!

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