Oduvar – temple singing tradition

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Close on the heels of Sivarathri last week, here is the musical side of Siva worship that is exclusive to Tamilnadu state as the songs are composed in the Tamil language.

We learnt just one Thevaram (hymn on Siva) per year as part of our Tamil language class in elementary (Junior High) school then it vanished from rest of our lives. Now, the status of Thevaram or Thirumurai (a compilation of 12 works by 27 saints/devotees of which Thevaram is a part, the time period spanning 600CE-1200CE) is no different in Tamilnadu. During the time of the greatest Chola king Rajarajan (985CE-1014CE), it is said there were 50 Oduvars at the Big-temple in Tanjavur alone and being a Siva devotee himself, he made sure that every Siva temple had Oduvars in their roster. I was told that at the Darasuram temple, another Chola architectural marvel, the names of 108 Oduvars are inscribed. From such apogee, the tradition has fallen down to ‘endangered art’ category.

A few years back, I had a serendipitous experience of locating a few basic books on these works at home and discovering an Oduvar of talent in parallel. As I was scratching the surface of this art form, speaking of timing, an American run Hindu monastery based in Hawaii asked me to write a piece on this dwindling tradition for their international publication. Using Sri Satgurunatha Oduvar as the voice for the subject, the following unfolded –

Oduvar Tradition

note: the published piece has few typos; also, ’27 saints’ has been erroneously replaced as 64 by the editors as I assume they got such number mixed up with the 63 Nayanmars (fame Siva devotees)

Please click below to listen Satgurunatha Oduvar –

http://www.shaivam.org/gallery/audio/tis_sat_ain.htm

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12 thoughts on “Oduvar – temple singing tradition

  1. I DO NOT KNOW WHETHER I HAD INFORMED YOU THAT I USED TO GIVE CONCERTS IN TEMPLES AND SABHAS ON THIRUMURAI.I HAD RELEASED ;’THIRUMURAI’ c.d.ON THEVARAM-THIRUPUGAZH-THIRUVACHAKAM AND THIRUMANTHIRAM. SUNG BY ME,MY WIFE AND SRI NAGANATHA ODUVAR[EX KAPALI TEMPLE] releasd by a.v.m.STUDIOS—GIVEN FREE TO ALL THE TEMPLES. I WOULD LOVE TO PRESENT ONE TO YOU.C.D WELL APPRECIATED BY ALL.

    VISHWANATH

    • oh no, wasn’t aware of that. should remember to take that ‘present’ from you next time we meet – will certainly be honoured. Look forward to listen to your CD. Thank you !!

  2. Just fantastic! Satguranathan’s passion for Thirumurai isai is simply touching. May his tribe increase! Happy your heart goes towards our ancient almost forgotten waning art. I would suggest, we, similar to Vintage Heritage, should form a satsang to meet monthly once to discuss or have programmes for this. Again, finance is the problem. Satgurunathan does not talk about our Tamil Isai Sangam, How is the patronage there other than their annual Dec festivals? Krishna Gana Sabha conducts annual Panniru thirumurai festivals. Just a couple of weeks back also it had its 8th season, I believe. Could you visit any one of the progs? My heart was there but could not attend. Has Satgurunathan participated in any of KGS festivals?

  3. Hello Uncle. I am Gargee, daughter of Yashesh and Uma Anantani. I have been following your blog after Daddy spoke about it. Thanks for pointing towards this ancient tradition. As I was reading the article and hearing some of the clippings, I was wondering if they can be choreographed upon. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’d be lovely if we could, don’t you think?

    Thanks once again!

    • Hello Gargee ! Happy to hear from you and know you. Thanks much for following the blog and I hope you find worth spending your time.
      Absolutely, many BN dancers here have choreographed for Thevaram/Thirumurai compositions. May want to ask Sri. CVC next time he visits you or you visit him 🙂
      Happy dancing and wishing the best. If I can be of any help from here, please feel free.

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