Set in an area of approximately 2,000 sq yards, with one humongous statue of a 32-foot Lord Hanuman greeting you at the entrance, surrounded by trees and music vibrating through its hallways, Sri Thyagaraya Gana Sabha is a cultural treasure chest in itself. At first glance, it resembles a two-storied temple building as the premises houses a temple of Sri Thyagaraja. But, it has much more to it than just that.
“Established in 1966, the organisation’s sole aim is to promote Telugu language art and culture throughout,” says Bandi Srinivas, Administrative Manager of Sri Thyagaraya Gana Sabha. What started off with just one auditorium now grew to a set of 5. The premises houses two auditoriums with a seating capacity of 100, and two more that can seat 50 people at a time, while the main auditorium is equipped to accommodate a total of 700 people at a stretch.
When asked about the reason behind naming the organisation after Saint Thyagaraya, he said, “Thyagaraya is one of the most highly-celebrated composers of Carnatic music. His devotion of Lord Rama and the dedication and love he had for music is much talked about. By naming the organisation after him, we hope to hold on to his essence of music and the level of dedication he had.”
“Symbolically also, the name gives people a clear idea about the nature of the organisation and the kind of events that take place here,” he added.
When asked about the nature of events that the Gana Sabha hosts, Srinivas said, “Mainly, it’s music, dance and literature-related events that take place in the premises, like cultural dance shows, mainly Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, classical music recitals and performances, and book launches, skits depicting mythology.”
But, the organisation has now expanded its horizons and now stage plays of not just mythological origins but also on various other concepts, cultural and annual days of schools, meetings or gatherings of smaller organisations, etc.
An interesting fact about the place is that the entire premises, auditoriums and hallways alike, are filled with oil paintings. While some depict stories from Hindu mythology like Lord Narasimha slaying the demon Hiranyakashyapa, Lord Krishna, along with Radha and his gopikas, a recreation of the Ram-Sita wedding etc., a few others are portraits of musical stalwarts like Thyagaraya, Meera Bai, Annamayya, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Tulasi Das, Bhakta Tukaram, MS Subbulakshmi, and Ghantasala. Yet other portraits show the 23 Bharat Ratna awardees. Apart from these are the portraits of people who were responsible for the growth of Telugu as a language like Sri Krishna Devarayayulu, and Gidugu Ram Murthy.
Explaining the reason behind housing so many oil paintings, Srinivas said, “The reason is a simple one. To inform and educate people, especially the younger generation, about the culture and heritage of the land. We also see it as an excellent opportunity to honour all these extraordinary people for their contributions.”
“For programmes that are musical, dance or literary in nature, the mini auditoriums are available free of cost. This is all because of our chairman, Kala VS Janardhan Murthy. Within a short span of time, he has made some commendable changes that only increased the credibility and quality of the services we provided here,” he added. Having said that, the organisation has a lot of ideas in place that require monetary assistance from either the public or government or both and, therefore, is open for donations.