Parai is for celebrating happiness, not bereavement: Artiste

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Sep 15, 2018 02:02 PM IST

Chennai: While more and more youngsters are moving towards western dance and music forms, native art forms are being left behind.

In an attempt to bring Tamil folk arts to the fore, the Department of Communication in Madras Christian College recently organised 'Thadam - Tharaniyil Padhithiduvom.'

'News Today' caught up with Manimaran Magizhini, founder, Buddhar Kalai Kuzhu, to know the status of such forms of art in our State.

The artiste, who has specialised in paraiyattam, among other art forms, does not want to perform during a bereavement. Talking about it, he opines, "In ancient days, humans lived for more than 100 years, they wholeheartedly accepted death and it was celebrated, which is not the case in the present context. Owing to maladies, humans are short-lived which is unacceptable and paints a grim picture during the ceremony."

"As parai is played during funeral rites, the art has been erroneously understood by the public. When people think of the instrument, only sadness and death strike their mind. But little do they know how the perception of death has been transformed over the years," he adds.

He believes that paraiyattam is an art to celebrate happiness, not grieve, and has staged the art during temple thiruvizhas and wedding ceremonies.

Owing to several bitter incidents that Manimaran encountered in the past, he has been on a mission to take forward and spread his ideologies to the masses.

His joy knew no bounds when students came running up to him on witnessing the performances of paraiyattam, oyilattam, kazhiyattam, silambattam and kummi which were staged as part of the campaign to reclaim the traditional arts.

"There were students who shed tears and embraced the artistes on seeing Tamil folk arts come alive," says Manimaran.

However, unlike other art forms which are suffering slow death, he says, paraiyattam has crossed the phase and is gradually soaring.

"Going against the maxim 'pudhiyana puguthal, pazhaiyana kazhidhal', the students of Communication Department provided us an opportunity to perform and it was a platform where we, as artistes, got to interact with students, make certain facts clear and were welcomed. I believe it is the youngsters who have to take it forward," he pointed out.

Talking about what prompted the students and faculty members to come up with the theme, Department of Communication, Assistant Prof Deborah Raj says, "As the influence of western tradition is increasing, we have forgotten our roots. So, we have decided to throw light on art forms that are slowly fading away and create awareness."

The Buddhar Kalai Kuzhu has been in the forefront of reviving indigenous arts. With 25 office-bearers and countless students, they tour the country to perform and glorify traditional arts. However, despite the advancements, the troupe still uses parai made of buffalo skin as the usage of plastic is against the environment. Moreover, it does not produce the desired sound from the instrument, says Manimaran Magizhini.