PavaiNonbu (2016-17)

Both in 2015 and 2016, Chennai was struck by rain and storm, just as Margazhi was approaching. The losses and damages on both occasion, were heart-rending.

And when this happened the second time around, in 2016, I felt like taking my own ‘TiruppavaiNombu’ for Margazhi, and praying for peace – internally as well as externally; peace within us, and peace in the elements.

I believe that all forms of prayer, and associated art forms, carry a message of harmony – harmony with the universe, harmony with nature, and harmony with fellow-beings. In the Tiruppavai, Andal was not only praying for her own emancipation, but also conceptualizing harmony in the world – like when she prays for ‘maadammummaari’ (optimal rain occuring three times a month).

I took upon myself, the task of posting every day of Margazhi, a pasuram from Andal’s masterpiece. I wanted to do this as a home-recording with only voice over Tambura – that musical setting has a vintage charm and a musical appeal, of its own. I posted my daily prayer of one verse of the Tiruppavai, along with its English re-rendering by Prof Archana Venkatesan of the University of California at Davis, in her beautiful book “The Secret Garland”. I am sincerely grateful to Archana for permitting me to post excerpts from her book, along with the daily verse.

Apart from being a prayer, this ‘pavainonbu’ turned out to be a wonderful experience of ‘togetherness’ for me. From a group of rasikas of New Zealand who see the first light when the Sun rises above the International Date Line, to rasikas in the US west coast, who see their day break 21-odd hours later – a lot of rasikas joined me in these daily prayers, which I posted on my facebook page.

It was an amazing feeling of ‘togetherness’, when our love for Andal brought us together to delve into her immportal poem for a few elevating minutes, every day.