DURING this winter season, inspite of cold weather and chillness, large religious gatherings are taking place spontaneously. On December 23, 2010 more than 5 lakh devotees were delighted by seeing the Ananda Thandava Shri Nataraja in Chidambaram Temple, during Arudhra Darshan. More than seven lakh devotees had the darshan of Ranganatha Swamy in Srirangam when Swarga Vasal (gateway to heaven) was opened on December 17, 2010. On the day of Karthigai Deepam. 25 lakh Hindus had the darshan of Arunachaleshwar and made a parikrama of the mountain in Thiruvannamalai.
A pursuit with great devotion
Karthigeya temple in Palani, attract many more lakhs of devotees with kavadi on Thaipoosm day. There is no doubt that, Ayappa in Sabarimalai would be worshiped by more than five crore people by the middle of January 2011 during Makar Sankranti. Here majority of devotees are young and old men and men only. Very few women visit. Adi Parashakti temple, in Melmaruvathur, near Chennai, is altracting women devotees in large numbers.
These are the huge religious gatherings of devotees praying the lord for a boon that is beneficial to them. They gather with full of faith and conviction. These annual fesitivals are central to the South Indian religious traditions. These are some of the largest religious gatherings found anywhere in the world.
Spirituality arouses interest
Apart from this, there are big congregations seeking spiritual knowledge. Mata Amritanandamayi’s devotees are coming together in lakhs to have the healing touch of Amma. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Maharaj devotees are meeting in large numbers to learn about the Art of Living. He is working for a stress-free and violence-free society. Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev altracts large crowd. He presents powerful methods of self-transformation to people from all walks of life. Swamy Paramarthananda takes spiritual classes about scriptures and shastras in a brilliant way. His teachings are very much inspiring touching upon various aspects of life like Atman, self-inquiry, right attitude and right action.
These are the wonderful assembly of people who want to discover the essence of their life. They try to understand the meaning of their life. They realise the contribution of our forefathers and how values were passed on generation after generation by personally practicing the principles and ethics. Participants are taken to higher consiousness through meditation prayer and contemplation. Their unique experience makes them believe that spiritual practice is the foundation of happiness.
During this coldest season of the year, after autumn and before spring, melodious music and dance festival is taking place in Chennai. It is a grand celebration of classical music and dance of south India. This carnatic music festival is held during mid December to mid January in the Capital city of Tamil Nadu. The festival is held at a number of venues around the city by various sabhas or organisations.
Performance includes Vocal, instrumental music and Bharatnatyam Dance—solo and group both by junior and senior artists. Even upcoming artists get a chance to perform along with well-established artists. The music includes songs in various south Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
The music instuments like Flute, Veena (a large string instrument) gottuvadyam (similar to Veena, but without frets), Nadhaswaram (pipe) Thavil (per cussion instrument) Mridangam (drum) and even Ghatam (mud pot). This music season goes on till mid January when the scene shifts to Thiruvaiyaru to celebrate the birth of one of the greatest carnatic composeers, saint Thyagaraja. This annual festival nourishes the classical tradition of music. It is an ancient and sophisticated art stretching back over thousands of years, originated from the Temples and performed by devine artists. The classical styles have been associated with mythology, philosoply and spiritural thoughts of the Hindu culture.
The Madras city comes alive with “Margazli festival of dance and music” which has become an annual feature with thousands of artists and lakhs of people who witness, see, hear, feel and enjoy the spectacular cultural event.
Production of films as an art
The Tamil Film Industry has opend up a new page in the history of Indian Cinema this year. According to reports in the media, a total number of 150 films have been produced from Chennai in the year 2010, a number which was never before achieved in the history of Tamil Cinema. Rajnikanth, is really a super star. Recently he acted in a science-fiction film involving a ‘Robot’. It was realeased in Tamil, Hindi and Telugu versions and ran very well in all the languages. According to reports, the cost of production of the Rajni’s Robot was about Rs 180 crores and the overall collection was more than Rs 800 crores. It is a Himalayan achievement beating all the old box office hits.
The whole world knows that superstar Rajnikanth often goes to Himalayas and stays in a serene atmosphere. He associates himself with sadhus, saints and sanyasis and meditates in the vicinity of the river Ganga.
Tamil was always rich in literature and music. But its cinema was mostly meant for entertainment. There were many who tried for a change. Among the new generation of film makers, Bala leads a pack in bringing a change in Tamil cinema’s outlook and approach. He is trying hard to give a new thought to Tamil cinema. Recently, director Bala made a film called, Aham Brahmasmi, Nan Kadavul in Tamil. This creation has fetched him a national award for best director.
Naan Kadavul, Aham Brahmasmin—is a film based upon a Tamil Novel Yelavathu Ulagam (7th world) written by Jayamohan who also penned the dialogue for the film.
The movie Pazhassi Raja was taken as an art film in Malayalam as well as in Tamil. The story of Pazhassi Raja, one of our first freedom fighters, was popularly known as the lion of Kerala. The making of this grand epic film is really an achievement. It educates the younger generation visually about the freedom struggle.
Something great is yet to happen
Tamil Nadu is peculiar in its own way. There were so many films with rational ideas. Some of those films were anti-god and anti-Hindu also. But late MG Rama Chandran (MGR) mentor of Jayalalithaa, changed the trend. He openly associated himself with Devi Mookambiga Mandir in Karnataka. Actor Vijayakanth appears with full Vibudhai on his forehead. After receiving Oscar Award in America, music composer AR Rahman declared that the credit is not for me. All glory are to God himself. Thus the trends are changing. In general, people are working hard. they are talented and creative. There are sincere efforts for excellance. Still, there is a longing for something great.