Hyderabad: The auspicious month of ‘Margasira’, also known as ‘Margazhi’ in Tamil, is considered auspicious for putting efforts into one’s own spiritual growth – be it Sadhana, Vrata, Bhajan or Pooja – for the blessings of Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, as well as others.
Every December, Chennai witnesses the music season called the Margazhi festival, where classical music artistes around the world get a chance to showcase their talent. More than 500 organisations put up over 2,000 music performances in the city. These festivities, however, have become central only to Chennai. Only in the last few years, have sabhas in other cities started organising concerts and ‘Thyagaraja Aaradhanas’.
In Hyderabad, events remain limited to paid and free concerts at a few venues, followed by the group rendition of the ‘Pacharatna Krithis’ to culminate the ‘Thyagaraja Aradhana’. This year, in the early hours of December 5, students of the Swarnam School of Music (SSM), rang in the music season festivities in a programme aptly named ‘Maargamu’! Around 40 students aged between 4 and 60+ participated in a ‘nagara sankeerthanamu’ and went around the devasthana at the Sri Seetha Rama Chandra Swamy Temple, offering prayers and singing Carnatic compositions.
In the age of the great composers of Carnatic music like Thyagaraja Swamy, Sangitha Pitamaha Purandara Das and others, it was the norm for the ballads, along with their disciples, to go about the town and sing their compositions. With the advent of the Mughals and the British Raj, these processions became restricted to temples and their Agraharams. Temples soon became the culture hubs where dance and music were celebrated. With the space restrictions came the transition from ‘nagara sankeerthanamu’ to formal concert set-ups, with the singer and instrumentalists sitting on a stage and singing to an audience.
In an effort to revive this age-old tradition of ‘nagara sankeerthanamu’, where music is made available for one and all and not restricted to performance halls, SSM performed an hour-long ‘nagara sankeerthanamu’ at the Ammapalle temple. While the twin cities have had ‘nagara sankeerthanamus’ in the last few years, they have largely been informal with small groups going around in a few select residential colonies.
The Ammapalle temple, also the venue for the ‘Gudi Sambralu’ festival was ideal for organising the city’s very first formal ‘nagara sankeerthanamu’ at a temple. The school hopes to do many more and hopes it inspires other sabhas and other music and dance schools to participate and restore this rich tradition!
The Swarnam School of Music, incepted in 2017, boasts of 100 students of all ages (4 to 70), religions and even students who do not sing in tune. The school believes music is for all and not restricted to only those who train to perform on stage. It truly believes “Everyone can sing!”