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Raga route to renovation

Ganesh's new form of unchavruthi is an effort to conserve heritage temples

HE TURNS the living room into a concert hall — chamber music of sorts, but for a cause. A qualified veterinarian, Dr. Ganesh, a disciple of Maharajapuram Santhanam, has found a divine purpose for his classical performances. For the past two months, every Sunday morning or evening, Ganesh sets out with a group of accompanists and few portraits of gods for his "Irai Isai Payanam." He visits the houses of devotees and music lovers. After a brief puja, Ganesh begins his recital featuring devotional and classical pieces, which generally lasts an hour. The money donated by the family and invitees is being used for noble causes like renovation and consecration of dilapidated temples.

"The inspiration came from Guhashri Kamakshi Sundaresa Swamigal of Vadasennimalai. The satsangam run by him has been involved in this Herculean heritage conservation task for a long time," says the young musician.

Thanks to the satsangam, last year, the Shri Ekambareswarar Temple in Nanmangalam got a fresh coat of paint and a rajagopuram. The next destination is Shri Shringeeswarar Temple, located about 30 km from Poonamallee near Chennai. Constructed in 967 A.D., this one is known for its architectural beauty. Besides, it holds a special significance for musicians, as Lord Anjaneya is said to have sung raga Amrutavarshini for Lord Shringeeswarar.

"This temple work involves an expenditure of Rs. 50 lakhs and I am doing my bit to further the cause," says Ganesh. After toying with several ideas, he hit upon this charity musical travel, in which he is accompanied by Madurai S. Balasubramanian, V.V Srinivasa Rao, Balashankar and Umayalpuram Mali.

The voluntary troupe has kept Rs. 5,000 as the minimum amount to accept an invitation for an `in-house' recital. "Even though any sum is welcome, we have set the limit to save time. But those who cannot afford the amount, I suggest they join hands with neighbours or friends to organise the programme."

After 11 performances in Chennai, Ganesh's new form of unchavruthi (those days money and grains were given to Bhagavathas going round the streets singing songs) is is becoming popular across the country and overseas too. "I am getting mails of appreciation from NRIs. Many have been urging me to visit their homes. I am going to perform in various parts of the State and Mumbai."

Ganesh's spiritual outlook seems to extend to academics too. For his association with veterinary science is limited to being a caretaker of cows in the Kanchi mutt.

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

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