The period from Ugadi to Sri Ramanavami is one that everyone looks forward to as they bring a plethora of cultural, literary, and musical events. As this year is the 125th year of birth of Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi, Paramacharya and the Sage of Kanchi, Sri Rama Navami Cultural Festival is celebrating its 58th Festival with many commemorative programmes spread over sixteen days, beginning from April 6.
The multifaceted personality of Paramacharya is brought out in six lectures spread from April 6 to 8. The coverage includes Paramacharya’s yeoman service in the preservation and propagation of Vedic literature — he as an ideal Acharya, his spirit of Nationalism, his diverse interests in shastriya sangeetham, his relation with contemporary western thoughts, and finally the Paramacharya as divine effulgence. The impressive speaker line-up on the three days is led by K Ramasubramanian, Professor of IIT Mumbai, Dushyanth Sridhar, Justice V Ramasubramanian, Vishakha Hari, Aravind Sitharaman the former MD of CISCO India, and the finally the Tamil cultural icon Suki Sivam.
Harikatha artiste Vishakha Hari presents a ‘Sangeetha Upanyasasm’ on April 9, on Raghava Yaadaveeyam, an old, Sankrit 30-verse ‘viloma anuloma kavya’ (bi-directional poem) by the poet Venkatadwari. The unique aspect of Raghava Yaadaveeyam is that when reading from left to right, it presents the entire Ramayana, from Rama’s incarnation to his Pattabhishekam, and when reading in reverse, it narrates the Parijathapaharanam episode from the Bhagavatam. Thus stories of both Rama and Krishna are narrated in the same work. Visakha Hari is accompanied by Ananthakrishnan (violin) and Arjun Krishna (mridangam).
A five-day Ramayana series ‘Punnagai Ramayanam’ from April 10 to 14, narrated the traditional Ramayanam with special freeze points on important smiles in the epic. It is rendered by N Venkatesh, who will dwell on the greatness of Valmiki and Kamban.
April 13 begins with a Rama Janana Patanam, followed on that evening by a unique “Classical Symphony” by Hyderabad-based Arabhi Centre of Performing Arts, featuring a 25-violin ensemble comprising students of Ashok Gurjale, accompanied by veena, mridangam, tabla, tavil and ghatam.
The Carnatic music card is filled on April 15 by Aishwarya and Saundarya, siblings and great grand-daughters of M S Subbulakshmi. Accompanying them on the violin is M Narmadha, daughter of violin maestro M S Gopalakrishnan, M S enkatasubramanian on mridangam and S Venkataramanan on kanjira.
On April 19, the youngest performer of the festival —11-year-old prodigy Raghuram Manikantan showcased by Kuldeep M Pai takes the prodigy corner, accompanied by Subbaraman on violin, KS Mahesh Kumar on mridangam and PR Ramesh on morsing.
Dances and discourses
A spectacular Bharanatyam dance drama ‘Sri Devi Mahatyam’ based on the glory of divine mothers, Mahakali, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, will be presented by students of Geetha Ganesan of Uttaraa Centre of Performing Arts
The highlight of the festival will be the Telugu pravanchanam (discourses) by Brahmasri Chaganti Koteswara Rao, on “Dharma Swaroopam- Paramacharya” from April 16 to 19 at 6.30 pm. His take on the Kanchi Paramacharya is that he was one who had no living guru to guide, and how he himself evolved superior values to live by; lessons that could have great relevance in contemporary times.
In a fitting culmination to the festival, the last two days April 20 and 21, are dedicated to “Dheivathul Dheivam”, a Tamil drama which recreates episodes from the life of Paramacharya from age 13 to almost 100. It impressive magnum opus by Elango Kumanan comes with drama sets by Thota Tharani and music by Mandolin Rajesh.
With so much happening for over a fortnight at Keyes High School Secunderabad, from April 6 to 21, Sri Rama Navami Cultural Festival promises a vibrant feast.