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13 days to go....
Chitirai thiruvilla

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Magic of MS: Subbulakshmi's historic song of peace and hope at 1966 General Assembly

MS debuted the Maithreem song at the UN on October 23, 1966. She then made it a regular feature in most performances.

By the mid-1960s MS Subbulakshmi was already an iconic Carnatic star. In 1962, Lord Harewood who was the director of the famous Edinburgh festival had heard MS singing on the All India Radio in Delhi. Taken by her voice he flew to Madras to experience a live concert. He invited MS the following year to perform at the Edinburgh festival. He also invited the legendary Bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati along with MS for the same festival. Both their concerts received rave reviews across the press in London in 1963.

U Thant, the then UN Secretary General and Chef De Cabinet CV Narasimhan invited MS to sing at the UN which was commemorating the International Co-operation year dedicated to Pt Jawaharlal Nehru in 1965. But that year the Indo-Pakistan war broke out and MS was unable to go. The following year U Thant sent an invite to the MS, this time requesting her to sing for the delegates at the General Assembly hall in New York on United Nations Day which falls on October 23. Subbulakshmi and her husband Sadasivam gladly accepted this invite.

Sadasivam was a master of ceremonies. He made sure everything went smoothly. In planning the entire concert, minute-by-minute, he made a selection of songs that balanced both the pure Carnatic numbers and lighter pieces like Bhajans and so forth. Meanwhile Muthu Chetty in Kanchipuram got special sarees woven for MS and her two daughters Radha and Vijaya. There were rehearsed photo sessions and much more.

The deeply religious Sadasivams never took any major decisions without consulting the two godmen they worshipped all their lives. One was the Kanchi Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati (1894-1994), the 68th Jagadguru of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and the other was Satya Sai Baba (1926 -2011) of Puttaparthi in Andhra. They promptly made a trip to Kanchipuram to take his blessings. The Paramacharya, a great scholar in Sanskrit and a polyglot had a prayer which he referred to as an anthem for universal friendship. The prayer goes:

“Maithreem Bhajatha , Akhila Hrujjethreem,

Atmavadeva paraanapi pashyatha

Yuddham thyajatha , Spardhaam Tyajata , thyajatha Pareshu akramamaakramanam

Jananee Pruthivee Kaamadughaastey

JanakO Devah Sakala Dayaaluh

Daamyata Datta Dayadhvam Janathaah

Sreyo Bhooyaath Sakala Janaanaam”

Listen to Subbulakshmi perform it here:


The meaning of which is:

“Cultivate friendship to conquer all hearts

Look upon others as yourself

Renounce war, forswear competition

Give up wrongful aggression on others

Mother earth is ready to grant all our desires

The lord, our father, is merciful to all

People of the world! Be restrained, generous and compassionate,

May everyone be happy and prosperous!” 

The words ‘Daamyata Datta Dayadhvam’ were taken from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

Taking this blessing of a prayer the Sadasivams approached music director Vasant Desai (1912 -1975) to set it to tune in a medley of Ragas. He was paid a cheque of Rs 501 for this service. He was so moved by the whole experience that he didn’t cash the cheque. He framed it and preserved it for the rest of his life.

MS debuted this song in her concert at the UN on October 23, 1966. Not just that, she made it a regular feature in almost all her subsequent concerts for the rest of her life. You can watch her preforming the same for the Sai Baba of Puttaparthi in the famous ‘Spirit of Unity’ concert series.

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Life history of MS Subbulakshmi Amma narrated by Harikatha exponent Sri Revathy Sankaran.. must watch...

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This week let us know about a musical legend, MS Subbulakshmi Amma...
Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi (16 September 1916 – 11 December 2004), also known as M.S., was a Carnatic vocalist. She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour. She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize, in 1974 with the citation reading "Exacting purists acknowledge Srimati M. S. Subbulakshmi as the leading exponent of classical and semi-classical songs in the carnatic tradition of South India."
Subbulakshmi (Kunjamma to her family) was born in Madurai, Madras Presidency, India to veena player Shanmukavadiver Ammal and Subramania Iyer. Her grandmother Akkammal was a violinist.

She started learning Carnatic music at an early age and trained in Carnatic music under the tutelage of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and subsequently in Hindustani music under Pandit Narayanrao Vyas.

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Festivals are celebrated in Meenakshi Amman temple thoughout the year. Let us know the festivals month wise


The Chitra festival is celebrated for 12 days during the Tamil month of Chitrai (April in the English calendar) and begins with the flag hoisting on the first day. On the 8th day the coronation of Meenakshi Amman takes place. On the 9th day the Goddess is taken out in procession. On the 10th day the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar is performed, followed by car festival the next day, Theertha festival is celebrated on the 12th day with the Lord and Goddess going round Masi streets.

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Pic courtesy : +Gunaamuthan Photography

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The spring festival is hosted for ten days during this month. On the 10th day milk mango offerings would be offered to the deities. The Lord and Goddess would proceed to the New Mandapam stay there and be taken out in process. On the day of Moola star, the procession of 63 Saints would be conducted in the morning and at night Thirugnanasambandar would be taken out in procession.


Oonjal festival would be conducted for ten days during this month. On the `10th day, the triple fruit pooja would be performed. Abhishekam would be performed for Sivakami Amman and Arulmighu Nadarajar on the day of Uthiram. The Panchasabha Nadaraja Moorthy would be taken out in procession along the fur Masi streets.


The Aadi Mulaikottu festival is celebrated for 10 days during this month. The festival would be confined to only to the Amman, who will be taken out in procession along Aadi streets. Spcial recitals of Nadaswaram would be the highlight of this festival.


The Aavani festival would be conducted for 18 days. Six days of the festival would be devoted to Arulmighu Chandrasekarar and the balance 12 days would be for the Panchamoorthies. On the 7th day of the festival, coronation would be performed for Sundareswarar and on the 8th day the horse reins would be exchanged. On the 9th day the episode of Lord Sivaperuman carrying soil for earning pittu would be enacted while the theertham on the occasion of the joining of Avittam and Pooranai would be celebrated. On the same night, Arulmighu Thirupparankundram Subramaniyar and Thiruvadhavur Arulmighu Manickavasaka Peruman would bid farewel. During the festival of Chandrasekarar, procession would be taken out along the second corridor of Swami shrine. The Panchamoorthies would be taken around in processiion along Aavani Moola streets. During these days the ten miracles performed by the Lord of Madurai would be enacted by the Sivachariars.


The Navarathri festival would be celebrated for Amman in a grand manner during this month. Amman would appear in a separate dress and look every day and bless the devotees at the `kolu mandapam’ in Amman Sannidhi. Kalpa pooja and Lakshacharna would be performed everyday for the Amman at the sanctum. On the 10th day the washing of hair ceremoney would be performed. On that Panchamoorthies would be taken out in procession within the temple premises. On all ten days of the festival cultural festivals would be hosted in a grand manner. The entire temple complex would be bathed in colour lamps and the dolls would be arranged in a manner to find a niche in the hearts of the devotees.


Kanda Sashti fesival would be celebrated for six days at the Koodal Kumarar Sannidhi. Soorasamharam is not performed here. On the seventh day when Arulmighu Muthukumarar goes out in procession, `Pavadai Dharshan’ would be conducted.

On the day of Deepavali festival, a durbar would be held for the employees of the temple.

On the days of Pooram in this month, the ceremony of hoisting and swinging Meenakshi Amman would be performed.


Deepam (lights) festival would be conducted for ten days during this month. Swamy would be taken out in procession along the Aadi streets. On the day of Karthigai one lakh lamps would be lit in the temple. On that day a bonfire would be lit in East Masi street


Oil anointing ceremony would be conducted for nine days in this month at the New Mandapam. Arulmighu Meenakshi Amman would be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. On the day of Thiruvadhirai, Arudhra Dharshan will take place. Pancha Sabha Nataraja Moorthigal would be taken in procession along the Masi streets.On the day of Ashtami the Lord and Goddess would ride the oxen vehicle and go round Kottai streets. Thiruvembavai festival would be conducted for ten days. Everyday, Arulmighu Manickavasagar would be taken out in procession along Aadi streets in the mornings. On the 10th rotating wheel and golden spring ceremonies would be conducted. In the mornings Thiruvembavai and Thirupalli Yezhutchi lyrics would be recited and there will be religious discourses by spiritual leaders. competitions would be conducted for school and college students and prizes presented.


The float festival would be conducted for 12 days during the month. Swamy and Amman would be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. On the 8th day the casting of net festival would be held while theertham festival and the pushing of the float would be held on the 10th day. On the 11th day harvesting of sheaves and on the 12th day the float festival would be conducted.


The Maasi Mandala festival would be conducted for a mandalam (48 days). Six days of the festival is devoted to Arulmighu Vinayaka and six days for Arulmighu Kumar and three days for the triumvirate and six days for Chandrasekarar. The deities would be taken out in procession along the second corridor of Swamy Sannidhi. Panchamoorthy festival would be celebrated for ten days, when they will be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. Theertham would be held on the day of Maham. Silent festival would be conducted for nine days of which three days would be for Chandrasekarar and an equal number of days for Swamy and Chandikeswarar. On the 10th day, the flag would be lowered and accounts read.


The summer spring festival would be hosted for nine days at the Velliaymbala mandapam. Swamy and Amman would be taken in procession along Chitra streets. On the day of Panguni Uthiram, Swamy and Amman would proceed to Arulmighu Thiruvappudayar temple and bless those who excel in their religious belief by sprinkling `rasa vadham’.
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