Everything seems to have come full circle once again. This time, last year so many of us were confused, cautiously trying to cope with the situation of lockdown, retrenchment, work-from-home, living in fear of the deadly virus, and rarely venturing out from home. Live cultural programmes, teaching-learning classes, had grinded to a halt throwing things out of gear for members of the arts fraternity; there was so much uncertainty all around. It was a totally new experience for all.
Things eased a bit and since the summer of 2020, the digital space started buzzing with online cultural activity as artists and social media commentators explored every avenue to give vent to their creativity. The online music and dance season was a success and a morale booster for many. The scenario improved further in the new year 2021, and in January-February it was heartening to see sabhas opening their halls to live performances with Covid protocols in place. The launch of the Covid vaccination drive ushered in hope that things would look up in the coming months. But the euphoria was shortlived.
Since March-April the second Corona wave has been more virulent. The situation everywhere has turned grim with vaccines, life-saving medicines and oxygen in short supply and Covid positive cases and deaths shooting up. As a consequence, curfew, lockdown and restrictions on gatherings and cultural activities have been clamped down once again. No respite, we are back to square one! Often we get news of deaths and bereavement in the artistic fraternity. Sruti extends it’s heartfelt condolences to the affected families.
It has become a time for introspection, to draw on our inner reserves for strength and sustenance. A time to contemplate on a Higher Being for Hope; and what better subject than to dwell on Siva-Nataraja whose eternal, cosmic Dance is the embodiment of the activities of srishti, sthiti, samhara, tirodhana and anugraha. It is probably time for Siva-Neelakantha to once again come to the rescue of humanity and cleanse the poison pervading the environment. The cover story in the May issue of Sruti is devoted to Siva-Nataraja. We are indeed privileged to bring to our readers very insightful articles written by eminent personalities Padma Subrahmanyam and Sudha Seshayyan. And we hope to offer our readers some more in the coming issues.
In the News & Notes section too, we have reports on the natyanjalis held during Sivaratri. We also have write-ups about Tyagaraja aradhana – our way of paying homage to the vaggeyakara whose jayanti is usually celebrated in May. The Iyer Brothers, renowned vainikas, have penned a sincere and moving tribute to their guru the late Pichumani Iyer whose centenary celebrations conclude in May. The birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore – famous for his Gitanjali, Rabindra Sangeet and Rabindra Nritya – is also celebrated in May. We bring to you a report on an interesting seminar (held in 2020) on Rabindra Nritya which is now about 100 years old.
Our correspondent K.K. Gopalakrishnan has penned an obituary tribute to the veteran Kathakali doyen Chemmencherry Kunhiraman Nair who passed away recently at the ripe old age of 104. I got an opportunity to watch the centenarian— with an endearing smile and twinkling eyes—perform the navarasa at a felicitation function organised at BIFAC in Chennai a few years ago. He was amazing even at that age.
Even as we go to print we are shocked to hear about the sad demise of the famous Hindustani vocalist Rajan Mishra who succumbed to Covid. In this grim situation, we can do our bit by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, sanitising and remaining safe at home as much as possible. Let’s listen to music, watch dance – online of course! And read a lot too!