When Statues tell Stories

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a walk along the statues in the Marina, as a part of an event. It was conducted by the Storytelling Institute on account of Madras Day. This is the advantage if you are a media student. You get to know a lot of events and somehow gather the energy to be present and see what happens there.

So the walk was planned along six statues, starting with the Kannagi statue and going up to the Avvaiyar statue. Here I shall try to document the background of each statue, with a mix of narrative from the walk and also a little from me.

IMG_9647

Kannagi Statue

Kannagi’s is a fascinating story. In those days, Tamil Nadu was ruled by different kingdoms and each kingdom had its own symbols of identification.

This piece of trivia was told to me by one of the Tamil teachers who taught me- Chola kingdom had anklets that had Rubies in them, while the Pandiyas down South had anklets with pearls in them. This was also an aspect of identity for the people back then it seems.

It was the time when Kovalan, Kannagi’s husband had come back to her. He was in an illicit affair with Madhavi earlier and he had realised his mistake. Once back with Kannagi, they sought to begin a new life and devoid of money, Kannagi gave him one of her anklets and told him to sell it. Kovalan set out with the jewel and was arrested by the soldiers of the Pandiya king, in Madurai. Their Queen’s anklet was missing and since Kannagi’s anklet looked very similar to the missing anklet, they arrested him and brought him to the king. The king, after taking a look at the anklet, confiscated it and ordered Kovalan to be killed as a punishment for theft. Thus Kovalan was killed. This news reached Kannagi and she was angry. She was sure that her husband was no thief and she set out to seek justice from the Pandiya king himself. She goes to his court and argued that the king had made a mistake in killing Kovalan. She said that her anklet had rubies in them, while the Queen’s anklets had pearls. She threw the anklet she had onto the floor and rubies scattered from it. She asked for her other anklet from the king and threw that open too, in front of the entire courtroom. It broke and rubies came out of them too, thus proving that the king had erred in executing Kovalan.

Distraught at the injustice meted out to her, with untied hair and eyes burning with fury, she cursed the then prosperous city of Madurai and reduced it to ashes. Worshipped as a deity in some parts of Tamil Nadu, she is the heroine of the Tamil epic- Silappathikaram, which means the tale of the anklet.

IMG_9659

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Born in 1897 and raised in Calcutta,  his father was a famous lawyer.  He was sent to England to study.  In England, he passed the Indian Civil Services Exam. The Jallianwalabagh massacre made him quit Civil Services training in England and in 1921 he came back to India.

It was then that he met Mahatma Gandhi, and joined the Indian National Congress.  He was arrested and jailed by the British so many times.  And for what?  Only for saying that his people should be free.  Eventually, he fell apart from Gandhi altogether.  He could not accept Gandhi’s insistence on nonviolence.

Gandhi wanted to change human beings. Bose just wanted to free India.

In 1941, when Germany went to war with England, he went to Germany (by way of Afghanistan). He broadcasted anti-British radio programs from Berlin. He accepted support from both Germany and Japan for he believed that an ‘enemy of my enemy, can be his friend’.

In July 1943, he went to Singapore.  There he organised the Indian National Army.  In March 1944, they crossed the Burma border and stood on Indian soil.  However, when Japan and Germany eventually lost World War II, the Indian National Army had to retreat too.  Then, in 1945, it was reported that he was killed in an air crash over Taiwan.

IMG_9667

Tiruvalluvar

One of the most important literary figures of the world, his work, Tirukkural encompasses everything that is required for a balanced and good life on earth. The book, also known as the Ulaga Podhumarai, has 1330 couplets, with chapters on justice, relationships, conduct, and governance.

வள்ளுவன் தன்னை உலகினுக்கே – தந்து
வான்புகழ் கொண்ட தமிழ்நாடு

sang the legendary poet, Bharathiyar. (By giving the world, Valluvar, Tamilnadu attained eternal glory).

IMG_9692

G.U.Pope

He was born in 1820, on an island off the East coast of Canada. His family migrated to England when he was small. He traveled to South India in 1839, to spread the word of Jesus Christ.

G.U.Pope was a good student of languages, and in time became a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu. He started a number of schools, and in these schools, he taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics, and Philosophy.

He decided to translate the Tirukkural, and completed the project in 1886.  Then, in 1900, he completed the translation of the Tiruvaasagam (“Sacred Utterance”).  This is a volume of hymns composed by the ninth century Shaivite Bhakti poet, Manikkavaasagar.  Tiruvaasagam is the eighth volume of the Tirumurai, the sacred anthology of Tamil Shaivite Siddhanta.

The main message of the Tiruvaasagam is that the body is temporary and we should not spend a lot of time and energy pursuing worldly comforts. Those are among the root causes of pain and sorrow.  Rather, one should pray to leave the body and attain liberation (moksha). The soul should have control over the body and not the other way round. It also said that the ultimate aim in one’s life is to reach Lord Shiva’s feet or, in Christian terms, to be in the presence of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

IMG_9726

Bharathidaasan

A rationalist poet, he adopted his name owing to his admiration of Bharathiyar. His poems are based on social issues and in a way contributed to the Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu. His missions in life were to promote his mother-tongue, Thamizh, to change the idiosyncrasies arising from old traditions, and to use new formats to convey revolutionary ideas.

His poems reflect the society of his days and also echo a tune of morality and upright behaviour. He stressed the importance of being honest and also socially responsible. One of his poems that I still remember learning in my high school is this one:

“தன்பெண்டு தன்பிள்ளை சோறு வீடு 
சம்பாத்தியம் இவையுண்டு தானுண் டென்போன் 
சின்னதொரு கடுகுபோல் உள்ளம் கொண்டோன் 
தெருவார்க்கும் பயனற்ற சிறிய வீணன்“

The one who stays content with the welfare of his wife,

kids, food and wealth,

is the one who is of a heart that is as big as a mustard seed,

useless to anybody else.

IMG_9724

Avvaiyar

Avvaiyar lived in the ancient Sangam Age, over two thousand years ago.  She loved to write poetry. She wrote poems about nature, people, the universe etc. In those days, a woman writing poems was not encouraged. But she knew what she wanted and what she didn’t. She did not want to spend all her time taking care of children and a husband.  So she prayed,

“Please let me be bent, please let me be broken, please let me look in such a way so that no man would want to marry me.” 

The most important women poet of Tamil Nadu, she gave the world, Aathichoodi, which teaches moral lessons to children in a sentence. Each sentence is a story. Her friendship with Adhiyaman and her story about a Jamun tree are well known. Popular culture shows her as the one who sings songs in praise of Lord Muruga and Lord Ganesha.

*Some of the above content is hereby credited to Story Telling Institute and is used with their permission *

 

Advertisements

Koko- A Pantomime

I was very eager to watch this pantomime, because the previous one I had attended was brilliant. I love satire and humour. I always give first preference to comedy than any other genre. So with this expectation, I stepped into Narada Gana Sabha on a Sunday evening.

koko

Koko was a pantomime that had the story of the friendship between a hen and human beings.

Chikki, the hen was a tired mother, who had lost many eggs to various factors. Finally she lays an egg and was hell bent on protecting it from anything that may happen to it. Her efforts bear fruits and she gets a cute chick, Koko, out of it. Like any doting mother, Chikki is smitten by her child and wants the child to excel in whatever forms of arts that were there. Martial arts, School, Running and tutorial classes came to the rescue of Chikki’s wish and she enrolls Koko in all of them.

From one class to another, Koko finds her day fully occupied and starts wilting under pressure. A pressure that every child faces today. Frustrated that she is not able to fulfill her mothers expectations and sad that she does not find time to play with her friends, Koko breaks down.

Timely interference of the three guys, who had once saved Chikki and helped her in protecting her egg, clears the situation between the hen and the chick. Finally all is well that ends well.

The play was amazingly crafted and each element was executed with finesse. The music, the set, the conceptualisation of the birth of the chick, the calendar etc were bang on and added value to the story.

I would love to place on record, a teeny tiny detail that I noticed in the play. I shall explain the “human” version of what was shown on the stage.

While the child is frustrated by the neck-tight schedule on one side and of not being able to meet the expectations of her parents on the other side, she yearns for someone to talk to, to understand her and to lend a shoulder for her to cry on. This is the time, for which many anti-social elements are waiting. They would try to swoop in and take advantage of the child’s helplessness and lure them into unspeakable things. A child will not know what is right and what is not. All that she would care about is that she has someone who is patient enough to listen to her wishes and cries. This was a brilliant effort by the team, to portray what the society is,to the audience. If anything, this minute detail must serve as an eye-opener for the parents to take care of their kids. 

All actors did an excellent job in playing their part. A huge applause for each and everyone involved behind the screens. It is definitely not an easy task to do this without as much a breathing time in between the scenes.

Koko, is a must watch for every parent with their children. This is not just a pantomime. It is something beyond the art and comes with a message that is very essential for the society. 

Eternally Yours

Any relationship has it own ups and downs. Given the current exposure of the world to us, we have coined several terms for the different phases a relationship goes through. Marriage is not the end of a relationship. In fact, it is the beginning of a whole new game play. The promise and commitment to be there for each other, with each other is divine and chaste. Words must essentially be fulfilled.

There will be days when everything is not hunky-dory. Negativities begin to play peek-a-boo every other day and people start drifting apart. It is the love that brought them together in the first place and the commitment that sealed the deal that come to help them out.

Here is a poem I had the fortune to read, which describes the feelings of a husband when he senses the minor fractures that had began to appear in his married life. This poem, written by one of the most talented souls I have had the fortune to meet and get to know, Vijay anna, cruises through the beautiful language of Thamizh and takes the help of literature to reaffirm his love to his lit-loving wife.

அன்புள்ள மனைவிக்கு,

 

‘அன்புள்ள’ என்பது

எத்துணை முழுமையற்ற ஒரு

சொற்பிரயோகம் என்பதை

உனக்குப் புரிய வைக்கும்

என் முயற்சிதான் இந்த மடல்!

To my dear wife,

This letter is an attempt to make you see how much inadequate is the expression ‘Dear’, in many situations.

நீ என் வாழ்வின்

எத்துணையோ இடங்களை நிரப்புகின்றாய் தெரியுமா…

 

கடல் முகந்து

சூள் கொண்டு

விண்ணுயர்ந்து

காற்றொடு கலந்து

அடர்ந்து

கறுத்துக்

குளிர்ந்து

நெகிழ்ந்து

மின்னி

முழங்கி

மழையாய்ப் பொழியும் முகில்கள்

குறிஞ்சியின் மலைவழி இறங்கி

முல்லையின் காடுகள் நனைத்து

மருதத்தின் சமவெளி பாய்ந்து

பாலையின் பாளங்கள் ஊறி

நெய்தலின் கடலினில் கலப்பதைக்

காவியங்களின் ஆற்றுப் படலங்களில்

கவினுறச் சொல்ல

கம்பனாதிகள் கஷ்டப்படுவதைக் 

கண்டு வா

என்

ஐம்புலன்களின் ஐந்திணைகளை

நிரப்பும் உன்

காதல் காட்டாற்றின்

புதுப்பெருக்கைச் சொல்லப் புகுந்த

என் சிரமம்

சிறிதேனும் புரியலாம் உனக்கு!

Do you know how important a part you are, in completing my life? Your role in my life is similar to the phases that a cloud undergoes in its journey from the state of water to rain. I urge you to witness people like Kamban stumbling to detail the journey of a rain drop, through the mountainous terrain of Kurinji, the dense forests of Mullai, the heavenly green expanse of agricultural lands of Marutham, the dry and arid trails of Palai and the deep water bodies of Neythal. You might get an inkling of the enormity of my task to give my love for you, a structure in words.

கல்தோன்றி மண் தோன்றாக் காலம் முதலான

கன்னித்தமிழின்

கிளவித்தலைவர்களைப் போலத்தான் 

நானும்:

காட்சியில் தொடங்கினேன்

என் காதலை,

அணங்குகொல்?  

ஆய்மயில் கொல்லோ?

அழகிய

சுடிதார் அணிந்த மாதர்கொல்?

என

நெஞ்சு மாய

ஐயுற்றுத் தெளிந்து 

ஆவல் அதிகரித்தேன்…

I am very similar to the “thalaivan” portrayed in Tamil Literature. I fell for you the moment I saw you. My eyes laid the first stone to the monument of my love for you. That moment shook me – “Is she an Angel? Or a mystical peacock that is beautiful? Or is she a lady at all, for her beauty is unseen till day. My mind raced and revolted with my head with all these unanswered questions. I have never wanted answers so badly. My curiosity was testing my patience.

அதுவரை அறிந்திராத

ஆயிரமாயிரம் உத்திகளை

அடுக்கி அசரவைத்தது

என் அறிவு என்னையே!

பேர் அறிய

ஊர் அறிய

உனக்குப்

பிடித்ததும் பிடிக்காததும் அறிய

உந்தன் கைப்பேசி எண் அறிய

காதல் பற்றிய கருத்தறிய

எல்லாவற்றிற்கும் மேலாய்

ஏற்கனவே நீ

எவனையேனும் விரும்புகிறாயா என்னும் அந்த

ஆயிரப்பொற்காசுக் கேள்விக்கு விடையறிய

அதுவரை அறிந்திராத

ஆயிரமாயிரம் உத்திகளை

அடுக்கி அசரவைத்தது

என் அறிவு என்னையே!

My intelligence surprised me then, with all the ideas and strategies that I could employ to get to know you. Your name, legacy, your likes and dislikes, your mobile number, your opinion and ideas on love and finally the million dollar question that is- If you were already in love with somebody else.

My intelligence did surprise me like never before!

நாட்டை வளைக்கும்

நாற்படைத் தலைவன் போல்

நாட்கணக்காய்த் தீட்டினேன்

நல்லபல வியூகங்களை,

I spent months in plotting a perfect plan to conquer you, like how an Emperor would, to satisfy his thirst of expansion.

அகத்திணைகள் ஆய வேண்டிப்

புறத்திணைகள் ஆராய்ந்தேன் –

 

“வெட்சி மனம்கவர்தல்

மீட்டல் கரந்தையாம்

நட்பாகிச் செல்வது வஞ்சியாம்,

பார்வைக்கு –

உட்காது எதிரூன்றல் காஞ்சி

நேரம்காத்தல் நொச்சி

அதுவளைத்தல் ஆகும் உழிஞை –

அதிரப் பொருந்தல் தும்பையாம்

காதலில்

மிக்கோர் மனம்வென்றது வாகை யாம்”

 

என

இலக்கணம் வகுத்து

இடைவிடாது இயங்கி

இதோ இன்று

இனியவளே உனைப் பெற்றேன்!

I drowned myself in ‘Purapporul’ in order to acquire the bliss of ‘Agapporul’. I used all the possible ideas from the literature that I read and devour and finally won you, my beloved!

Note- Purapporul is a branch in Tamil Literature wherein the core idea of the contents linger over the ideas of courage and bravery. It tells us tales about the manner in which Rulers conquer and the other ruler defends his territory. The variety in this, is given the names of flowers beginning with Vetchi and ending with Vaagai. On the other hand, Agapporul is that branch of literature which deals with the emotions of the heart. Love, Lust, friendship etc can be found here. 

காதலை நான் உரைத்த நொடி – எனைக்

கலங்க வைத்தாய் உன் கருத்தால்

காத்திருந்தேன் நான்

கவிதைகளால் காலம் நிரப்பி!

 

காகிதத்தில் என் கவிதைகளும்

காலத்தில் என் காத்திருப்பும்

இயற்றிய கடுந்தவத்திற்கு

இரங்கினாய் இறுதியாய்

காதல் வரம் தந்தாய்

காதலியாய் உனைத் தந்தாய்…

The moment I confessed my love to you, you shook me with your reply. You were not into it, you said. I waited, filling the void I felt, with the lines I wrote for you. Trees and time went by, finally you gave consent. It was a jubilant moment for my penance, for my patience. You gave a boon, an eternal boon to me, in the form of yourself.

உரிபொருள்கள் மாறின  

உன்னால் என் கவிதைகளில்

உள்ளுக்குள் நிறைந்தாய்

ஒவ்வொரு செல்லாய் நீ… 

கால்களில் சிறகு முளைத்தன

என்

காதலுக்கும் காலத்திற்கும்

My sorrow turned to bliss. Vows were exchanged infront of the Divine Fire. We became a single soul trapped in two bodies. You gave soul to me and my poems. You gave wings to fly, for time and for my love, to bask in the golden ray that is the sunshine.

காதலனுக்கு இருந்தததைப் போல் இன்று

கணவனுக்கு இல்லை காதல் என்று

கண்மணியே நீ குறைபட்டுக்கொள்கிறாய்

கண்ணீரால் என்மீது குற்றங்கள் சாட்டுகிறாய்!

இருக்கிறதென்று காட்டவே

இதோ இந்த மடல் உனக்கு…

Days went by in marital bliss. Today you lose heart saying the love has faded and I was a better lover than a husband. Oh my love, you tear me apart with your tears!

To refute your claim, I pen these words down.

அறியாத அந்த

அவைகளை அறிந்தபின்

ஆர்வம் சற்று குறைந்திருக்கலாம்தான்

ஆனாலும் அன்பே

இருக்கவே இருக்கிறதே

அடுத்த நிலையில்

அறியாதவை பல!

Where the mind has known the unknown, I don’t deny that my curiosity might have waxed a little. But then, darling, there is always a next step where again we are lost, in the maze of the obscure and the unknown.

அறிதோறும் அறியாமை கண்டு

செறிதோறும் சேர்த்துக் கொள்கிறேன்  

செல்லமே, என் காதலை!

I shall get that bliss similar to unraveling the mysteries of the unknown, every time I derive pleasure from you, my Love!

காகிதத்தில் இல்லையென்றாலும்

காலச்சுவடுகளில்

இயற்றிக்கொண்டுதானே இருக்கிறேன்

கவிதைகளை நான்?

கவனிக்கவில்லையா நீ?

If not in words, in trails of time, I still am penning down poems for you. Did you not notice that?

கண்கள் சிவக்கும் உன்னைக்

கன்னம் சிவக்க வைப்பேனே!

கவிதையில்லையா அது?

 

கேட்காத கேள்விகளுக்குக்

காதுக்குள் கிசுகிசுக்கும் விடைகள்,

கவிதையில்லையா அது?

I shall make you go pink in your cheeks, when your eyes are red from all the tears that you shed. Is it not a poem? Those sweet nothings that we whisper in each others ears, even when there was not a word spoken before that, isn’t that a poem?

தோற்பதற்கென்றே தொடங்கப்படும்

தொல்லையில்லாத சண்டைகள்,

கவிதையில்லையா அது?

 

எதிர்பாரா நேரத்தில்

எதிர்கொள்வாயே அது,

கவிதையில்லையா அது?

Those little tiffs that we begin, just to lose ourselves and make each other win, Isn’t that a poem? When you feel the unexplainables at the unexpected times, Is that not a poem?

வார்த்தைக்குத் தப்பிக்கும்

வாழ்வின் அந்நொடிகள்,

கவிதையில்லையா அது?

 

இன்னும் இன்னும் இருக்கின்றன

எழுத இயலாதவையும்

எழுதக் கூடாதவையும் – எனக்கு

எழுதத் தெரியாதவையும்…

Moments of life, which take life in pieces of paper, only to be re-lived later on, isn’t that a poem by itself?

There is much more, which cannot be written, shall not be written and those which I know not how to be written.

என்

ஆயிரம் கவிதைகளையும்

ஒரே ஒரு நொடியின்

ஒரு துளி மௌனத்தில்

ஒன்றுமில்லாமல் ஆக்கிவிடும்

உன்னிடம் எதைச் சொல்ல?

இந்த ஒன்றை தவிர,

 

நான் உன்னைக் காதலிக்கின்றேன்!

என்றும் என்றென்றும்…

What do I have to say? To you, who would burn all my words written so far, with a single glance, with your momentary silence, into smithereens.

I have nothing more to say than this- I love you, always.

Thamizh Mania

This post is long overdue and has been in my drafts folder for a very long time now.

Choosing one’s life partner oneself has been a sticky subject since times immemorial. Although times have changed and parents these days are open to an extent, still there are situations where the couple need to fight it out, figuratively, to win in their love. I don’t blame either of them for this, for I totally understand the sentiments of both the parties quite decently. What amazes me is that, this practice of love, eloping etc existed since the days when human beings were created. I hadn’t thought that deep, to be honest.

The thought struck me when I got to listen to a wonderful piece of literature. This one is a part of the Kalithogai. One of my friends, who is a Tamil Literature enthusiast had taken the pains to choose and explain this to a sizable group of 20-somethings.

It goes like this-

செவிலி கூற்றும், முக்கோல் பகவர் மாற்றமும்

எறித்தரு கதிர் தாங்கி ஏந்திய குடை நீழல்,

உறித் தாழ்ந்த கரகமும், உரை சான்ற முக்கோலும்,

நெறிப்படச் சுவல் அசைஇ, வேறு ஓரா நெஞ்சத்துக்

குறிப்பு ஏவல் செயல் மாலைக் கொளை நடை அந்தணீர்!

வெவ் இடைச் செலல் மாலை ஒழுக்கத்தீர்; இவ் இடை,

என் மகள் ஒருத்தியும், பிறள் மகன் ஒருவனும்,

தம்முளே புணர்ந்த தாம் அறி புணர்ச்சியர்;

அன்னார் இருவரைக் காணிரோ? பெரும!’

‘காணேம் அல்லேம்; கண்டனம், கடத்திடை;

ஆண் எழில் அண்ணலோடு அருஞ் சுரம் முன்னிய

மாண் இழை மடவரல் தாயிர் நீர் போறிர்

பல உறு நறுஞ் சாந்தம் படுப்பவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

மலையுளே பிறப்பினும், மலைக்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

நினையுங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

சீர் கெழு வெண் முத்தம் அணிபவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

நீருளே பிறப்பினும், நீர்க்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

தேருங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

ஏழ் புணர் இன் இசை முரல்பவர்க்கு அல்லதை,

யாழுளே பிறப்பினும், யாழ்க்கு அவைதாம் என் செய்யும்?

சூழுங்கால், நும் மகள் நுமக்கும் ஆங்கு அனையளே

என ஆங்கு

இறந்த கற்பினாட்கு எவ்வம் படரன்மின்;

சிறந்தானை வழிபடீஇச் சென்றனள்;

அறம் தலைபிரியா ஆறும் மற்று அதுவே

A caretaker of a young girl, goes in search of her missing girl. She comes across a saint, to whom she asks, ” Oh respectful soul, did you, by any chance, happen to see a girl and a boy,who have apparently fallen in love with each other, go this way”? 

The saint replies- ” I cannot lie that I have not seen them. There was a boy who was very handsome. Although, I would tell you that, the ever fragrant sandalwood that grows atop the mighty mountains does not belong to the mountain. The radiant pearl that lies in the seabed does not belong to the ocean and neither does the notes that take birth in the strings of an instrument belong to the instrument. In the same manner, you might have given birth to her and raised her, but she does not belong to you.”

The saint then continues to say, ” She has gone with the Man whom she loves with all her life, you may trust her and abandon your search now. She will be safe with her man.”

I found this absolutely beautiful. The analogies drawn to explain the predicament to the girl’s guardian are lovely and exceptional. While I type this, I get reminded about one particular quote that I adore.

Kadaikkan Paarvai kanniyar kaativittaal,

Mannil kumararku Maamalayum Or kadugaam

It means – The moment a glance from the corner of Her eye falls on Him, even the toughest task becomes so much as dust for Him

love

So much for love, eh? 😉

Tamil real text source: http://www.tamilvu.org/library/libindexen.htm