Chennai: During Pradosham, the Kapaleeswarar Temple draws a lot of crowd with people flocking to the temple to have a darshan of the Lord. On the occasion, a regular visitor might not have missed TR Viswanathan, who leads the Pradosha Bhajans in the temple.
For the past 19 years Viswanathan has been involved in singing bhajans at the temple during Pradosham. A resident of Mandaveli, the 72-year old speaks to News Today about his interest in bhajans.
Viswanathan, though not trained formally in music hails from a family of musicians. He credits his father Ramaswamy and elder sister, Bhagavatha Siromani Ganthimathi Santhanam, a bhajan singer for instilling in him the interest right from his young age. “My father Ramaswamy Iyer was a part of Thiruppugazh Bajanai Mandali in Triplicane. He was an active member of the Mandali for 40 to 50 years.”
“My sister is also a bhajan singer and seeing them sing, I naturally got interested in bhajans and learnt just by listening. But it was only in the year 1975 that I started to move towards it,” he said.
Viswanathan who is an active participant of Pradosha Bhajans in the temple got an opportunity to lead it from the year 2000 and for 19 consecutive years he has been doing it. Speaking about it, he says, “Earlier there were only 15 Sivavakkiyam songs that were sung during the bhajans. Once I started to lead, I began searching about Sivavakkiyam songs and came to know that there are nearly 300 songs. So I practised some of them and now we would sing nearly 85 songs during that one hour.”
“Exactly at 5.30 pm, the Pradosha pooja at the temple will start. We will first start with Sivapuranam and after that, we will recite the Sivanamavali which will be followed by Siva Vakkiya Padalgal. There are nearly 40 people who would sing along with me and hundreds of others who are at the temple would join us,” he adds.
Viswanathan apart from singing the bhajans has also written two books, one about the songs and the other explaining the importance of Pradosham and has distributed it to the devotees at free of cost.
“A Sivachariyar at the temple once told me to write a book about Pradosham so that people coming here would know what Pradosham is all about and get an idea about why it is done in a grand manner in the temple so I compiled a book called Pradosha Mahimaiyum Thatthuvamum that has all the details of Pradosham’s importance and significance. It was released around 2014-15. The other book, Pradosha Kala Sthothra Paadalgal, has all the songs that are sung during the Pradosha Bhajans was published in 2005.”
“In this book, I have mentioned the Siva puranam with meaning, Sivavakkiyam songs and I have also compiled the Sivanamavali according to alphabetical order. The Sivanamavalis which we sung were earlier jumbled and now I have compiled it in the alphabetical order according to Tamil letters so that it would be easier for the people to memorize it,’I wanted to just spread the word to as many people as possible and involve them in the bhajans that’s why I have distributed the book to them at free of cost,” he says.
Viswanathan also sings bhajans during the Kailai Mailai Bhakti Valam, during the month of Margazhi early in the morning going around the Mada streets. He is also part of Dharmasastha Shri Manikanda Baktha Samajam and Gnanandha Namasankeerthana Mandali in Myalpore.