The month of Chaitra or Chittirai is a joyous one as it ushers in the new year in different parts of India – based on their regional calendars. The beginning of Chaitra is a time to celebrate Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand and Navreh. Mid- April rings in the new with Baisakhi, Tamil Putthaandu, Bohag Bihu, Pohela Baisakh and Vishu. In the cultural calendar too there is cause to celebrate as sabhas have opened their small halls and big auditoria to host live programmes. After several months of trepidation and hibernation, rasikas are making bold to venture out to attend cultural programmes. There is now a new addition to their aharya – colourful, matching masks of course. Nobody shakes hands now, no bear hugs; the elegant, traditional Namaste is in vogue!
A major live programme was ABHAI’s Annual Day, organised successfully at the Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai, while strictly following the Covid protocol Veteran dance exponent, guru and arts administrator Prof. A. Janardhanan, was conferred the Natya Kalanidhi on the occasion. Senior violin accompanist for dance M.S. Kannan, as well as Bharatanatyam exponents and teachers Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala and G. Narendra were also honoured with titles by the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India. The award ceremony was followed by presentation of several items of the Bharatanatyam repertoire by ABHAI members. Prof. Janardhanan is April-born – take a look at the Sruti birthday calendar!
The Kalaimamani awards announced by the Tamil Nadu government were also presented at a well conducted event. Bharatanatyam artists Ambika Kameshwar and Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala received the Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J. Jayalalithaa Special Kalaimamani Awards for 2019 and 2020. Veteran vocalists Vani Jayaram and S. Rajeswari are the recipients of the all-India award – the M.S. Subbulakshmi Award (Music) for 2019 and 2020 respectively. Senior Bharatanatyam exponents Alarmel Valli and Chandra Dhandayudhapani were conferred the all-India Balasaraswathi Award (Dance) for 2019.
A total of 59 personalities have received the Kalaimamani Award for 2019 and another 65 for 2020 this year, but the number of classical performing artists thus honoured is very less compared to those in the cine field. Hope this ratio will change for the better in the coming years. Sruti congratulates all the awardees.
The cover story in the April issue is a centenary tribute to the tavil maestro Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram Pillai – whose birth and death anniversaries both fall in April. We also have a dynamic younger percussionist – mridanga vidwan J. Vaidhyanathan sharing the space with the centenarian. Music runs in his blood – his famous aunt D.K. Pattammal, equally famous father D.K. Jayaraman and Vaidhyanathan are all recipients of the prestigious Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
We are privileged to publish a centenary tribute to the Bhavani duo of B.V. Raman and B.V. Lakshmanan penned by eminent dancer-scholar Padma Subrahmanyam – she pays tribute to her music guru. There is an interesting analysis of nritya karanas by eminent natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan. These should also kindle the interest of students of music and dance.
We are happy to include the Sruti Box section in this issue. The letter writing habit seems to be on the wane as youngsters are busy with Likes, emoticons and short comments on social media. The reading and writing habit has, however, improved during the lockdown period, and we hope it will take a turn for the better in future. So, Happy reading – get a copy of Sruti, either digital or in print! And don’t forget to send us your feedback letter for the Sruti Box!