By K Chitra
Over two evenings of unbelievable experiences, with the waves and the breeze forming a magical backdrop, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the diverse culture of Chennai at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha.
Day One started with parai attam. The vibrant sounds that emanated from the instruments helped me to realize the greatness of our Tamil music. I also came to know that parai which we normally believe is used only at funerals (most of the audience answered said so when asked) was used by our ancestors for all good occasions like first birthdays, wedding celebrations, temple festivals, and by the kings to make proclamations to the general public.
Next came the villupattu by the Kuppam children – their sharp point to point narration on mindless consumerism, unlawful construction and the floods, all explicitly and entertainingly narrated.
I am sure that like us it must have been a different but pleasurable experience for Bharata Natyam artist Shreejith Krishna and his team to dance on a jamakkalam on the beach sand. He and his team invoked the Sun God , immersed themselves in Janardhana and wrapped up with a tillana on the saptaswaram.
Contemporary Indian Folk presented by Raghu Dixit, Bhaskar and his group gave an entirely new dimension to folk music. They mesmerized the audience with their infectious singing, brisk violin notes and soul stirring lyrics.
In between all these musical treats, the conservancy workers who helped the city come back from the debris of the floods were honoured.
Day Two opened with the more traditional nagaswaram by Carnatic Music College students. The sounds of the nagaswaram and tavil resonated along with the rhythm of the waves. This was followed by Nalandaway Kids’ choir singing a few songs in unison. Vijay Siva's short and sweet kutcheri was a sheer delight to the ears and the way he rewarded the slum kids by giving them chocolates for guessing the name of the gods and goddesses mentioned in his songs was indeed commendable.
Bharatanatyam by eight girls from the Urur kuppam was next. They danced to a Ganesa stuti by Satya Sai Baba, a Deepanjali and finally the film song Ayirpadi Maligaiyil by Kannadasan. Their interest in learning the art form was quite evident in their presentation.
Day two honoured the Chennai youth who helped during the floods.
A fitting finale to the two day event was the modern fusion music by Sean Roldan and friends. Anthony Daasan enthralled the audience with his powerful voice, lilting music, gripping lyrics and humble nature.
To take a liberty with William Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this seashore!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night