A Veena Aaradhana in Singapore. 50 veena artistes, gurus and students along with accompanying percussionists on Mridangam, Ghatam and Kanjira came together to pay their respects to the noble stringed instrument, Veena.
Veena a plucked stringed instrument is one of the most ancient and revered of Indian instruments. The instrument is associated with Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of learning. There are several variations of the veena, a member of the lute family. Saraswathi Veena is one of other major types of veena the others include chitra veena, vichitra veena and rudra veena and many more. While rudra and vichitra veenas are used in Hindustani music, saraswati veena and the chitra veena are used in the carnatic music of South India and so forth. One who plays the veena is referred to as a ‘Vainika’.
So 50 vainikas came together to play that day. Mr B. Kannan was the guest artiste of the day. In Chennai he organises the ‘Veena Mahotsavam’. This festival initially conducted by veena vidwan Raghurama Iyer and Chennai’s Mudhra Bhaskar, passed the baton in 2009 to B Kannan. With great aplomb, now Kannan organises the 10 day festival in Chennai which also includes forums and activities with the support of Narada Gana Sabha. The festival is much sought after by vainikas and veena lovers.
Kannan Balakrishnan is himself a renowned veena exponent from Chennai. Kannan comes from a family that has a rich art and cultural heritage. He is the nephew of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, the renowned danseuse and research scholar.
It is also Kannan’s earnest desire to ignite interest in the instrument as well as cultivate interest globally by making the Veena Mahotsavam, a global event. And what better way to have the festival in Singapore than when Singapore celebrates its 50th year of Independence. Kannan fondly calls the global festival a ‘Harmony of Strings for Human Harmony’.
The event started with the playing together of the 50 vainikas paying homage to Lord Vinayaka by rendering the composition ‘Vathapi Ganapathim’ and later on the various gurus and students of the popular institutions took over. The institutions that participated were Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Temple of Fine Arts, SYAMA, Guru Vandhanam, Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society as well as independent gurus and their students.
The accompanying percussionists for the event : T. Ramanan, R. Subramanian, Akileshwar VM, and Srinivasan Krishnan as a part of SIFAS group, Kalamandalam Harikrishna as a part of Nrityalaya on Mridangam, Mahesh Parameshwaran on Ghatam and Delhi Rajasubramaniam on Kanjira.
CHETAS (Centre for Holistic Enrichment Through Arts) started in 2014, a budding organisation providing training in carnatic vocal, Bharatanrityam dance, carnatic violin and yoga classes organised the event.
Vaishnavi Anand, founder of CHETAS and chief organiser stated, “As my husband Anand is a violinist and I am a vocalist and dancer, we thought we would do something different from our core areas and decided on the veena as it is one of the most ancient instruments as well as the instrument associated with Goddess Saraswati, who all artistes venerate.”
Definitely it was something different and much relished by the veena enthusiasts of Singapore.
‘Veena Aaradhana’ was held at the Multipurpose Hall at Goodman Arts Centre on Sat, 19th September.