Tears of Artistic Ecstasy at Venkateswara Temple

Published: 21st November 2015 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th November 2015 11:36 PM   |  A+A-

Geetham Sravyami, Vadhyam Ghoshayami, Nrityam Samarapayami are the offerings made by a devotee at the end of a puja. It means: I offer you music and dance.

The arts have always been part of worship in the Hindu tradition. The temple was the biggest patron of arts, with performances, grants and endowments that supported the growth and sustenance of arts. With the shift of arts from the temple courtyard to the proscenium stage, the cultural festivals in the temples dwindled and died out.

tean.jpgHowever, in the sylvan abode of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala, a revival of the arts stands as a beacon of hope to arts and artists

On August 15, 2009, Naadaneerajanam, a unique programme was launched. It was the brainchild of the then executive officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), IYR Krishna Rao. It was created to offer Nada seva to Lord Venkateswara—revered as Nada priya and Nada brahma—with daily performances by musicians, dancers, Harikatha artistes, etc., on a stage across the Maha Dwaram of the Tirumala temple, every evening, to be watched by lakhs of devotees who throng Tirumala. The event was also telecast live across the world by Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel (SVBC).

Over the last six years, legends of music and dance as well as young initiates have performed here, deeming it a great blessing to offer their art at the spiritually charged environs of Tirumala. Legends, gurus, veterans, stars, scholars, performers, overseas artistes have all trekked up to Tirumala to offer their art at Naadaneerajanam.

With over 2,000 programmes presented every single day since its inauguration, showcasing approximately 20,000 artistes (an average of 10 artistes per day) telecast live and watched by millions across the world, the Naadaneerajanam is an extraordinary model for sustenance and promotion of arts, spiritual and cultural  dissemination and revival. It is a lodestar for other places of worship to replicate. Woven in it is the presentation of the art and artist, documentation and archiving of the art itself, and dissemination to the larger viewing public, and the higher ideal of providing the best possible fillip and support to India’s many intangible cultures and heritage.

Dancer-scholar Padma Subramanyam says, “The Naadaneerajanam programme has brought back our arts to its home—the temple.” Her thoughts are reiterated by Kuchipudi guru Raja Reddy, “The arts have always been sustained by the temple and Naadaneerajanam is an idea that must be replicated elsewhere also.”

Bharatanatyam guru V P Dhananjayan says, “Naadaneerajanam provides an extraordinary platform to both   veteran and young artistes to touch the spiritual essence of India’s arts.” Violin maestro A Kanyakumari says: “I feel transcendent whenever I perform here,” to which dancer Deepika Reddy adds, “To perform at the feet of the Lord, what more can I ask for?”

Yes, what more can an artiste aspire for? My own performances here have often left me in tears of spiritual ecstasy, enriched by the divine resonances of Tirumala, feeling the presence of a higher intelligence and reality, humbled by the love of devotees, who see the gods and goddesses in our art.

The arts of India are entwined with the religious and the spiritual and Naadeneerajanam is a stellar example of how arts, spirituality and entertainment—when presented well—can be made an uplifting experience for the performer, the presenter and the viewer. It is a concept and an extraordinary model worth replicating across the country. 

Jayant is a bureaucrat and a classical dancer, choreographer and dance scholar. ananda.jayant@gmail.com

India Matters


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