Yet again, I find myself in Chennai for Music Season 2013. It has become a part of my annual calendar now-like the Term Planner given out by schools every year. It is what I do every year at this time of the year, but the excitement remains undiminished. What to wear, where to eat, whom to meet and best of all, whom to listen to.
Marghazhi is a spiritual month in the South Indian calendar. It is the month of Thiruppavai and Thiruvempavai. The Ekadasi this month is also special as ‘VaikuntaEkadasi’ You are that close to Swargavasal. Lord Krishna has said that ‘I am the month of Marghazhi’ The temple bells seem to peel a bit louder as if calling one and all to prayer. I guess, for those of us who are NRIs, those temple bells hardly ring through the year. Suddenly, it is that which wakes you in the morning and not the alarm clock!
It is also the time to sample traditional home-made food. That rare recipe for Kara Vadai which no one else makes, a juicy VaduMangai, the ‘kaimanam’ of your favourite aunt. Even the weather turns milder, I’m told. None of that biting, scorching heat which everyone promise is the fare through the year. Is Chennai unbearably hot? Really?
Then, in the quiet of the morning the tambura strings are plucked. Music is in the air. Sabhas these days are busy through the year, I hear. But for me, it all starts now. The handouts from each sabha of their line-up for the next 15-20 days.Lec-dems, youngsters with one foot in the door and the old-timers all jostling with wannabe musicians, serious rasikas and the not-so-serious. Those for whom the kanchipuram silk saree and the filter coffee in the canteen hold more allure. And why not.Each to his own.
It is the same-old Thodi/Shankarabaranam says the cynic. But then, so are your parents as my music teacher used to say. Do you go change parents after 5 years because you need something different.
Has a whole year really flown by? It all seems like yesterday when I was here in December 2012. It feels like I never left. This is my spiritual time-out. Cleanse my body, mind and soul. Get back to my roots. A bit like recharging your mobile. My iPod is in dock now. So, bring it on Chennai…