Carnatic Music Festivals In South India

Carnatic Music Festivals In South India
Sudha Raghunathan performing at a sabha Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Immerse yourself in the world of divine and devotional music

Nikita Nikhil
May 02 , 2020
05 Min Read

Chembai Sangeetholsavam

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Culminating in the Guruvayur Ekadasi, this festival is held as a dedication to Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, an exceptionally talented Carnatic musician. According to local legend, Chembai was an ardent devotee of Krishna and used to conduct a music festival in the temple town where he would invite all interested folk to sing at the gathering. After Chembai’s demise, the small-scale event was taken over by the Guruvayur Devaswom board. Around 2,000-2,500 singers of all age groups participate in the festival held at the Melpathur Auditorium. Do not miss the group concert which marks the end of the festival. Held on the night of ekadasi, all performers come together to sing five favourite songs of Chembai, along with the ‘Panchratna Keerthis’ of the Carnatic world. The latter, a set of five songs written and formatted by musician Thyagaraja Bagavathar, is sung as a chorus by over 150 artists, and is sung over several hours. 


Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana

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In the Carnatic music world, you’ll come across various finely-calibrated compositions by Thyagaraja along with Muthuswamy Dikshidhar and Shyama Sastri. They are often referred to as the Trinity of Carnatic Music. Out of the three, it was Saint Thyagaraja who started creating compositions from the age of 13 and introduced various techniques into the world of Carnatic music. The Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana Music Festival is an annual celebration to commemorate the existence of Thyagaraja. Sitting in front of the place where the saint was laid to rest, a group performance of the Thyagaraja-composed Pancha Rathna Keerthana sets the vibe of the place.

Marghazi Kucheri Festival 

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This is one of the biggest local fests of Chennai. Held between mid-December and mid-January, the city's musical institutions (sabhas) resonate with Carnatic music. The line-up features A-list singers like Sudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jayashree, Priya Sisters, T M Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Sikkil Gurucharan, Padma Subramanian, Shashank Subrahmanyan, Malladi Brothers, Roja Kannan as regulars. Also, the Marghazi isn’t just limited to music, the season also witnesses a plethora of other cultural performances like Nama Sangeerthanams, Harikathas, bhajans, drama recitals, theatre productions, Hindustani music, classical dance forms, and folk art forms


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