Carnatic touch to hymns
The Keerthanaiyin Mahimai fest in Coimbatore showcased Christian Tamil songs.
PHOTO S.SIVA SARAVANAN
DEVOUT TUNES: Mallika Durai Pandian and group.
A festival of Christian Tamil songs was organised by Keerthanaiyin Mahimai Trust at the CSI All Souls Church Community Hall, Coimbatore, recently. Formed by the late B. Thangasamy and a few other lovers of Carnatic music, the trust has been conducting such festivals for the past few years.
In the early days, Tamil hymns were invariably translated versions of the originals from German or English. Later, it was felt that if the hymns were written in Tamil and set to Carnatic ragas, they would make a greater impact.
Abraham Pandithar, a musicologist, composed innumerable keerthanais on the lines of Hindu devotional songs and set them to ragas. Vedanayagam Sasthiriar and A.A. Krishna Pillai added to the rich repertoire by writing verses, rich in lyrical beauty. Many of the songs have been set to tune by D. A. Thanapandian, grandson of Abraham Pandithar.
This year's ‘Keerthanaiyin Mahimai' festival featured Mallika Durai Pandian (daughter of D.A. Thanapandian), Devika Jayasingh, Uma Chellappa, Jason Pandian, Sumathi Pandian, Priscilla Prabhakaran and Andrew -- all scions of the Abraham Pandithar family.
The repertoire comprised ‘Paadham Vandhaname' in Saranga, ‘Seer Thiriyekavasthe' in Karnataka Behag, ‘Porpumigu' in Sankarabharanam and ‘Aandavare Charanam Panindhen' in Amudha Gandhari. The lively chittaswarams added vim and vigour to the songs.
The orchestra (violin, veena, clarionet, mridangam, ghatam, thavil and tabla) was quite impressive. But if the number of accompaniments had been fewer, perhaps the melodious singing of the vocalists might have been more appealing.
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