CHENNAI: A sudden shrill sound breaks out of a stall setup at the 8th Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair on Friday.
Upon reaching the stall, school children in their uniforms were found with conches in their hands. The source of the sound is unmistakably clear as the excited children take a deep breath for a minute or so, before blowing the conch again.
On display at the stall kept by Kosainagaran Thirukailaya Thirukootam were a collection of 24 musical instruments, mostly wind instruments. Among other instruments on display were the ‘Udal’, which is a percussion instrument, Thalam and Damru, small two-headed drums. Since they are predominantly used at Lord Shiva temples, the instruments are also called ‘Sivakailaya Vathiyangal’.
The Kosainagaran Thirukailaya Thirukootam, based at Koyembedu in Chennai, has roughly 60 members and plays the instruments in temples across the state.
Standing with his friends, D Karthikeyan, a class 11 student of Vivekananda Vidyalaya in Perambur, doesn’t know the name of an instrument which he was about to blow momentarily. Though only a feeble noise came from his first attempt, the second attempt proved successful.
“In the past, I have tried to blow bugle, an instrument which is common in all school bands. But, this instrument caught my attention because it is big,” he said.
According to S Satchinathan, a member of the Thirukootam, the instrument which Karthikeyan just blew, is called the Kona Kombu. “Over 3 feet long, the twisted instrument in the shape of an elephant trunk makes a sound exactly like that of an elephant. You can notice it being played during temple processions,” he said.
The stall receives several music enthusiasts as well as curious youngsters but a majority of them like Karthikeyan don’t know about the instruments.
“The common question that they ask is about their history and on how to play them. We are at the risk of losing these instruments existing for thousands of years now. The upcoming generation must know about them,” says Satchinathan, 24, an acupuncturist by profession.