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Purandara Dasa Aradhane: A Silver Jubilee in Sydney

Sydney Indian community’s annual tribute to the founding father of the Carnatic tradition

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Sri Purandara Dasa (1484 – 1564) is rightly called the Pitamaha of Carnatic music and is revered wherever that music is sung. He not only developed a method to teach Carnatic music but also unified the Tala system and composed about 470,000 to 475,000 compositions in Kannada known as the DevaranamagaLu. It is no wonder that generations of musicians have showered respect upon him.

In the month of February, Carnatic musicians all over the globe celebrate his day of attaining Samadhi (Pushya Bahula Amavasya) and offer their salutes to him.

Sydney does not lag. We have been celebrating his Aradhane, non-stop for twenty-five years now, virtually in the COVID-19 years. This time round, a huge gathering at Redgum Centre saw the local community’s most celebrated singers join with students as well as followers in offering their pranams. They sang and they danced, for six hours, with not a dull moment throughout.

The Pillari Geethes kicked off the concert – fittingly, as these compositions are the ones that the student learns first up.

PURANDARA DASA ARADHANA

Then came the presentation of nine gems of Purandara Dasa called Navaratna Malika, in nine Ghana or major ragas (Nata, Atana, Bhairavi, Kanada, Shree, etc). Nearly forty singers and instrumentalists (learners included) took part, not to mention the dozens that sang and hummed from the audience. It was a great sight to see so many on the dais sing some of the great compositions including Jaya Janaki Kantha, Sakala Graha Bala, Odi barayya, Naninna dhyanadoliralu, Bandanene, etc. The audience swayed to a remarkable rendering, which has been improving year to year. There was a good touch of professionalism this year.

Following the main event, as many as twelve senior groups rendered the compositions of the master. The theme prescribed this year was Sri Rama Nama Smarane. The authorities point out that the theme was set last year, much before the mega prana prathisthapana ceremony at the new Sri Rama Mandir in Ayodhya. With respect to Lord Rama, Purandara Dasa himself has said, “Who wants you? Who wants your obligation? The power of your name alone is sufficient for me.” The presentation, in which about 150 participated,  included some popular songs as well as some rare compositions in a variety of ragas. In the Juniors’ segment, several young students presented their learnings.

PURANDARA DASA ARADHANA ceremony

The pinnacle was the dance bouquet offered by the students of Natya Nivedan group specially to celebrate the silver jubilee. It contained some of the key compositions of Purandara Dasa in pleasing ragas choreographed with magnificent poses and impressive movements.

Committee member Giridhar Tirumalai traced briefly the history of the Purandara Dasa Aradhane in Sydney, highlighting the contributions made by some of the past members. The present committee also brought out a souvenir in printed and online versions. It was released by Akila of VHP Australia. It was redeeming that along with experienced writers, many youngsters, born and brought up in Australia, have contributed their articles to the souvenir.

Shubha, Swathi, Pushpa and Jagadish, Vibha and Vaibhav acted as MCs.

It warms my heart to observe at events such as these, that we have successfully re-established our roots in Australia.

People have started marking on their calendars events such as Aradhanas of Purandara Dasa, Tyagaraja, Kanaka Dasa, Annamacharya and others.

The web site of the organisation, www.Purandarasydney.org has had 17,597 visitors from all over the world.

The online souvenir is available at http://www.purandarasydney.org/SJ2024Souvenir.pdf

READ MORE: An Adelaide tribute to a legendary musician

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