Chennai: A Muslim speaking about saint Vallalar. Sounds strange. But it happens regularly at Sakthi Vinayagar Temple, P T Rajan Salai, K K Nagar in the city.
What’s astonishing is, he – Dr M A Hussain – gets a good number of people – around 100 – to hear his talk when he speaks at the Vallalar Sanmaarga Sangam.
The sangam has been conducting Vallalar discourses every Tuesday since 2013 and on 31 July 2018 completed its 275th discourse.
Tracing the history, Vallalar Sanmaarga Sangam general secretary, K Ramachandran, said the Chennai district sangam was formed on 1 September 1982 and discourses were conducted on every Tuesday at the District Library Hall, Anna Salai.
Later, it was shifted to Chintadripet and MGR Nagar Government School. However, it was discontinued for various reasons.
At Vinayagar Temple on P T Rajan Salai, a portrait of Vallalar was opened in 1980 in the presence of then district judge, T P S Palaniswamy, ‘Thirukkural’ Munusamy and retired Deputy Commissioner of Labour, S Shanmugavadivelu.
Discourses were conducted regularly but the organisation also became defunct. “Later, we decided to revive it and on 30 April 2013, former HR&CE Commissioner T Pichandy presided over the function and Dr M A Hussain (Siddha practitioner), also honorary patron of the sangam, delivered the first discourse,” Ramachandran said.
So far, 50 speakers have delivered speeches on Vallalar every Tuesday. There are about 6,000 Vallalar songs. Each speaker touches upon 10 songs and the speech would run for one to one-and-a-half hours, he said.
Notable speakers include M A Hussain, Aranga Ramalingam, Mozhiarasi Ashokan, M B Babu and Kolapakkam Santhanam, he added.
The sangam is run through voluntary contributions. During every discourse, sukku coffee or tea and biscuits are provided by the sangam. People who come to hear the discourse arrange for tiffin at their own expense, said sangam vice-president V Kuppuswamy.
“The discourse attracts mixed crowd. Fifty per cent of the devotees come from far-off places to listen to the speeches,” he said.
“I look forward to Tuesday evenings. The talks on Vallalar at the sangam are inspiring and transport you to a world of love and caring. It was astounding to listen to Dr Hussain the first time, when he spoke expansively about the saint. The whole atmosphere wants you to return every week to listen to the scholars,” said Chitra, who comes all the way from Guindy to listen to the discourses regularly.
The sangam, headed by Kudanthai P Shanmugam with 25 members, meets once a year to discuss the activities to be taken up. It wants the younger generation to come forward and take the preachings of Vallalar to the masses.
Vallalar Sanmaarga Sangam is located at No. 55, VOC Street, MGR Nagar, Chennai – 78. Kuppuswamy can be reached at 94453 43706.