Chennai: How many people can boast of having had legendary composer M S Viswanathan compose music for them live on stage? And, how many people have had the privilege of receiving appreciation for their writing from former Chief Minister and Tamil literary icon M Karunanidhi?
A Tamil scholar from Ponni Colony is one of the fortunate few who has enjoyed both. On Tamil New Year’s Day, News Today brings you the story of author-poet-publisher, Thamarai Poovannan, a retired BSNL staff and founding editor of 14-year-old Tamil magazine, Senkarumbu.
Tryst with Tamil
The 61-year-old was born in a family that breathes Tamil. He said, “My father, V M Ganapathi changed his name to Thamizh Pithan out of his love for the language. My original name was Govindaraju which I changed to Thamarai Poovannan out of my adoration for the famous Kuzhandhai Ezhuthalar Sangam writer who had the same name.”
“From a young age, I was attracted to Tamil literature and leaders, and had the opportunity to interact in close quarters with famous Tamil scholars,” he added. Poovannan’s class 11 Tamil teacher was, in fact, Pulavar Veda who wrote lyrics for the famous song Vetriyai Naalai… in the MGR movie Ulagam Suttrum Valiban. Later, Poovannan formed a good friendship with famous writers like former Rajya Sabha member Valampuri John that kept the flames of his passion for Tamil burning bright.
Sangams and Senkarumbu
All this exposure led to Poovannan being active in the Tamil scholarly circle. In 1977, in order to propagate Tamil among the youth of north Madras, Poovannan started the Bharathi Tamil Sangam with students from the Sir Thyagaraya College. Later he founded the Theni Sangam in 1990 and the Senkarumbu magazine in 2006.
Today Senkarumbu sees 2,000 copies published every month. Poovannan says he doesn’t run Senkarumbu for any commercial gain and in reality, spends out of his own pocket to keep the magazine running. “I do it so that I can give an opportunity to aspiring writers to publish their content and keep their passion for Tamil alive,” he says.
Through the Sangams and Senkarumbu, Poovannan identifies and honours people who have contributed to the Tamil language in their respective fields. Some of them include giants like MS Viswanathanan, Sankar Ganesh, Vikraman, Balakumaran and S P Muthuraman. They maintained a good bond with Poovannan.
Kudos from Kalaignar, MSV
This bond led to an interesting incident. MSV who once attended Poovannan’s poem book release function, asked his assistant to bring his harmonium from the car and composed tunes for a few poems live on stage. Poovannan said, “It was completely spontaneous. He was smitten by the rich Tamil text in the poems.”
Karunanidhi too was a fan of Poovannan’s poems. In a letter appreciating Poovannan, Karunanidhi said, “Poovannanin kavidhaigalai padithen. Padi’thaen’ paaratukiren.” The former Chief Minister highlighted on the word ‘thaen’, which in Tamil means honey.
Thaamarai Poovannan who retired from his job in BSNL last year says his retirement-life is busier. He now travels around India, delivering talks in chaste Tamil. In February this year, Poovannan presided over the Thirukural Kavi Arangam and Karutharangam at the prestigious three-day ‘Ulaga Thirukural Maanadu’ in Malaysia.
You can reach him at 9445483053.