Thursday, November 1, 2018

Kanchipuram Varadar Utsavam

87 year old descendent of the Thathachariar clan has compiled over 40 verses as ‘Shobhana’ songs  that were sung a century ago at the Vaikasi Brahmotsavam in Kanchipuram
He continues to presents Kattiyam all through the year at the Varadaraja Perumal temple 
சாரநாதன் ஏள்ளியிருக்கும் திருச்சேறை
திருப்புல்லாணியில் சேதுக்கரை
திருக்கோவிலூரில் ஆற்றங்கரை
வேத பிரபந்த சாற்றுமுறை

Ghanta Venkata Varadar Thathachariar is 87 years old and a lean figure but his memory remains very sharp.  He recounts the days way back in the 1940s, when he along with 15 others were initiated into Vedic Education under the tutelage of Vellunur Ramanujam and Kolathur Vijayaraghavan at the Gujarathi Patshala in Kanchipuram (the Patshala does not exist anymore) on the banks of the Vegavathi river. Two of his classmates, both in their 80s, still reside in the street adjacent the Western Raja Gopuram of the Varadaraja Perumal Divya Desam.
82 year old Raju, Varadar's Patshala Class mate

Venkata Varadar learnt Divya Prabhandham from his father Sudarshan Thathachar who had served the temple for over two decades as a honorary trustee. His father had managed the Desikar Utsavam for several years.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Venkata Varadar has for several decades now been presenting daily the Kattiyam at the temple with utmost devotion, unmindful of his old age. He presents the Alankara Thirumanjanam Kattiyam and the Vedic Chant during Thiru Aarathanam every day. He also presents the Sri Bashyam Sutrams twice a day during Mantra Pushpam.
ஸ்நானம் பண்ணினால் தாமஸம்
தந்தி அடித்தால் சீக்கிரம்
கும்பல் கூடினால் துவம்சம்
வரதர் ஏள்ளும் ஹம்சம்

Each day of the annual Brahmotsavam, both in the morning and the evening, Ghanta Venkata Varadar is seen walking all the way from the Varadaraja Perumal temple to the Gagana Mandapam, 6kms west of the temple along with the Lord chanting the Vedas.

The famous Garuda Sevai
Venkata Varadar remembers the days of the annual Garuda Sevai when devotees would throng the temple from across the state. Over 50 scholars would chant the Vedas through the long procession of the Lord. 
                          A young Venkata Varadar

கல்யாணம் பண்ணிக்காதவன் முரடன்
கண்ணு தெரியாதவன் குருடன்
வழி மறித்து அடிப்பவன் திருடன்
வரதர் ஏள்ளும் கருடன்

For a large part of the 20th Century, there were at least 20 houses in the agraharam with the Thathachar descendents lining up on both side of the Western Raja Gopuram till the 16 Pillared Mandapam. Each of the houses had a specific name denoting the hereditary location of the resident. There was the Kondangi house, the Karikiri house, the Melpakkam family and the Raya Durga among others.  There was the Perungattur family on the North side of the agraharam.

The Vaikasi Utsavam
Over a 100 years ago, his grandma and other elderly ladies in the agraharam sang praise of the Lord welcoming him out of the temple on to the streets on the occasion of the big utsavams.

குட்டை குளத்திலே பாசி
கோவிலில் ஆடுபவள் தாசி
வடக்கே போனால் காசி
வரதர் உத்ஸவம் வைகாசி 
Into his 80s, Venkata Varadar has put together a beautiful compilation of over 40 such songs that connects the Lords from different Divya Desams that he hopes will be sung on the streets during the utsavams in memory of the ancient utsavams in the way it was conducted in the centuries gone by.

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