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The Fabulous Musical Wedding

Srinivasa Hebbar

As the global community is becoming increasingly materialistic, the quest and urgency for the spirituality grows more and more. Spirituality and Mystical charm of India has forever been drawing people from all over the world. People trynew and different versions of Spiritualism in the present scenario, but they end up followingtheold tradition which is immortal. There are places which still preserve the beautiful traditions irrespective of the revolving global changes. In the present scenario, the cultural deity is getting crushed out. But there are places which still preserve this tradition with at most care. Of particular importance is the Sampradaya Bhajan and Namasankeerthanam.

The tradition of Namasankerthanam came into practice around 300 years ago by its initiation from Sri Bhodendra, Sreedara Ayyaval and Sadguru Swamihal. The main ideal behind this tradition is repetition of Name of God by singing compositions in praise of saint-composers from all over India. From Meerabai's bhajans in Bhojpuri to Bhaktha Ramadasa's compositions in Telugu, Thukkaram's Marati Abhangs to Sanskrit Slokas from Jayadeva's Ashtapathis, Gopalakrishna Bharathi's compositions in Tamil and Purandara Dasa's Devarnama's in Kannada all songs are chosen for these Namasankeerthanam concerts, typically the main singer leads and all others repeat after them. Almost all Indian spiritual practices be it from any Leader or Groups; have adopted this "Bhajan"style as "Lead & Repeat" from time immemorial.

I come from a small village called Thiruvisalur in Tamilnadu, India. In my childhood I've been a part of many such festivals held at various places in my village. Typically these singing festivals start at 5 am and go on until 10 pm. There will be not less than 20 groups from various parts of India, singing one by one. I've always remembered celebrating any community event or family event with a Namasankeerthanam or Kalyana Utsavam. "Kalyana Utsavam" or "Wedding-Festival", the charming celebration that re-enacts the marriage of Vishnu to Lakshmi. I've participated in many variants like Wedding of Rama to Seetha, Krishna to Rukmini or Siva to Meenakshi, Valli to Muruga as well in my village. Everyone has absolute joyous experiences in such festivals. Many people bring different sorts of offering and the temple can get really fully!

On March 25th, 2012, I went to meet one of my friends in Andover and came to know of a "Rukmini Kalyanam" that was scheduled to be held at Chinmaya Mission. I was curious to go but was afraid if I could go without an invitation! My friend dragged me there knowing that I was really keen to go.

I was amazed wonderstruck and taken back to my childhood within minutes. I've never witnessed such a detailed and musical "Kalyana Utsavam" even in my village. I'm a Bostonian for more than 30 years now and so far, not even once witnessed a "Musical Kalyanam". I thank my friend wholeheartedly to getting me witness such a fabulous musical event !!

There is an element of divinity in the voice of Smt Bhavadhaarini who lead the young group of singers whom she has trained for this event. There was not even a slight change in her voice as she sang for 5 hours continuously.

With regular carnatic concert duration coming from 3 hours to 1 hour or 1.5 hours, It is really a tough challenge to be able to sing with such enthusiam for 5 hours!

Kids from third grade to tenth grade were found singing in chorus in sink while they rendered group songs. One could easily see dedication of every group-member in that performance. I'm sure there has been a lot of toil organizing little kids to perform with such maturity at such young age, Kudos to Bhavadhaarini for this achievement.

I later learnt that Smt Bhavadhaarini moved to Boston a year ago and was a disciple of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Smt D.K.Pattammal for many years. Many times, I have watched her perform on the television or heard her CD's online etc but never got a chance to witness her "LIVE". It is high time that Boston Cultural Organizers recognize and offer more platforms to such extremely talented artist amidst us. There must be more such events organized for everyone to attend and publicised.

Another beauty of this event was that Vaishnava Sampradayam's like Sathumurai (the tradition of reciting verses of Divyaprabandam in Tamil as a group of people) going hand-in-hand with Dakshina Bhajan Sampradaya of Musical Rendition. There was a perfect co-ordination between the singers group, the priests and the dancers.

It was a treat to the ears, eyes and heart witnessing every event in the traditional wedding being performed musically enacted by priests and dancers. One feels elated when they get the joy of singing the Lords Name along with a big group of devotees and also witnessing such celebration! I hope the organizers are working towards their next public event soon.

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