Bharathi Kalai Manram Presents Srimathi Vishaka Hari at Sri Meenakshi Temple

Vishaka Hari (center) with accompanying artists. violinist Ananthakrishnan  and mridangist, Arjun Ganesh, with the backdrop of Sri Meenakshi Kalyanam on stage at MTS.Photos: Dr. Gopal and Dr. Vaduganathan

Vishaka Hari (center) with accompanying artists. violinist Ananthakrishnan and mridangist, Arjun Ganesh, with the backdrop of Sri Meenakshi Kalyanam on stage at MTS.
Photos: Dr. Gopal and Dr. Vaduganathan

By Mahesh K. Iyer
PEARLAND: Vishaka Hari’s Kathakalakshepam rendition on Meenakshi Kalyanam was simply a moving experience that the almost 500 audience would soulfully remember for a long time to come. Bharathi Kalai Manram (BKM) President Partha Krishnaswamy and his board had planned, worked hard and organized this excellent event, and as summed up appropriately in the vote of thanks, “it was the most appropriate person rendering the most appropriate theme of Kathakalakshepam, at the most appropriate venue, jointly organized by the most appropriate institutions in Houston”.
BKM organized the 3 hour long program which rendered a perfect balance between theology and classical music, while interweaving the underlying Bhakti Marga. The audience was spell bound and offered great encouragement to the young artist, who most definitely exuded erudition over multiple domains. Meenakshi Kalyanam, that has been steeped in mythological tradition, was thus grippingly presented by an artist who was certainly younger than most of the audience, using Carnatic genre of songs, composed by relatively modern composers such as Lalgudi Jayaraman, Papanasam Sivan and Ambujam Krishnan in addition to the more traditional composers such as Syama Shastri and Muttuswami Deekshitar.
Vishaka Hari started the program with “Mamava Meenakshi” in Varali, composed by Muttuswami Deekshitar, where Goddess Meenakshi is addressed as “Shyame, Shankari, Digvijaye”. As fitting sequels to the opening song, she rendered “Gowri Manohara, Siva Sankara” in ragam Gowrimanohari and “Azhaka Azhaka” in ragam Suddha Danyasi, respectively composed by Papanasam Sivan and Ambujam Krishnan. Of course no treatise on Madurai Meenakshi would be complete without the magnum opus composition of Muttuswami Deekshitar, “Meenakshi Memudam” where Goddess Meenakshi is described as “Madura Puri Nilaye”… The main piece chosen for the event was “Meena lochana brova” by Syama Shastri in Danyasi. Goddess Meenakshi is described as “Gaana vinodini” (enjoyer of music), “Chandrakala dhari” (adorning the moon crescent) and “Neerada veni” (cascading tresses). The romantic mood of the chosen theme on Meenakshi Kalyanam, was well generated by Hindolam which came in the form of “Saama Gaana Lolane” a composition of Papanasam Sivan.
Being a direct disciple of pre-eminent violinist and composer Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Vishaka Hari elaborately rendered the Lalgudi Nava Raga, Nava Rasa, Tamil Pada Varnam, “Angayarkkani Aanandam Kondale”. The composition is a master piece of Lalgudi Jayaraman that exemplifies various aspects of Goddess Meenakshi with appropriate melody and rhythm. This particular song was a true example of the composer’s musical genius as well as the disciple’s grasp of the composer’s vision, while perhaps being the most appropriate song that covers multiple aspects of Goddess Meenakshi. The song was a perfect fit given Tamil lyrics, befitting BKM’s sponsorship, and the overall theme being Goddess Meenakshi.
The violinist Ananthakrishnan wowed the audience with a fantastic thanam in Sudda Danyasi. His mellifluous accompaniment that provided superb completions to the vocalist’s ideas was greatly applauded. So did the mridangist, Arjun Ganesh, whose accompaniment depicted every emotion Vishaka Hari was bringing out in each song, and also his thani-avarthanam in Viloma Chappu thalam was truly a fine exposition of his maturity and prowess.
Congratulations to BKM for bringing such a wonderful program to Houston. Special thanks to all the Sponsors and Patrons without whom this program would have been impossible. Dr. S.G. Appan a major sponsor said “Vishaka Hari was simply amazing, what a gift of God! BKM’s selection of this show as the curtain raiser for the 40th anniversary was perfect. A sold out show, pin drop silence in the auditorium, proof that everyone was spellbound. A day when all of us in BKM felt very proud of being a part of BKM.”