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Bani Beyond Borders III:
Nature of/and Art.

The beginning of spring is a beauty in the Pacific Northwest. Every year, we experience the grandeur of budding leaves in green, dew drops on flowers and the melodious chirping of birds chattering throughout the day. One such day brought Mouli a raga with a refreshing combination of notes depicting this exuberance in our spring. He composed a poem in his newly named raga Neelakurinji, the name of which refers to the blue mountain region akin to Nilgiri Hills in Tamilnadu. The song, ‘Pozhiyum Mazhai’ is an ode to Portland, Oregon, which is located on the pacific side of the rocky mountain valley, lush with greenery befitting the ‘kurinji’ land.

Pozhiyum Mazhai composed by Chandramouli Narayanan

பொழியும் மழை முகிலின் அன்பே கருணாரசமே
போகம் ராகம் பொலிந்து பொங்குமே ஆனந்தமே
பருவங்கள் தொடரும் பயிர்கள் தழைக்கும்
பலகோடி உயிர்கள் உய்க்குமே
பா சுரக்கும் சந்ததாசன் சொல் சிந்த.

The shower of rain
is nothing but the love of the clouds
‘Tis the very essence of compassion
Harvest and music flourish
Happiness swells to the brim
The seasons continue
Vegetation sustains
Millions of beings thrive
The songs pour forth
with the enchantment of Chanda-Dasa

Around this time, we connected with Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer from Australia to collaborate on some paintings for the compositions. Ramnath graciously agreed to paint the luscious agricultural land to bring the beauty of Oregon through his painting for the line
‘PayirkaL thazhaikkum’.

Audio Clip Pozhiyum Mazhai:

Pozhiyum Mazhai in Veena Concert:

It has been a welcome relief to explore these contemporary themes in South Indian music, considering its deep roots in tradition and mythology. The Neelakurinji Varnam has paved the way for exploring more compositions.

After many years away from painting and composing, I revisited the old diaries of my mother Late Smt. Rajeswari Padmanabhan. I had an enchanted feeling seeing her varnams and kritis, many of which bring back fond memories of her teaching and composing. Although many of her compositions have not come to light since she wrote them down many years ago, I feel that it is a calling on me to unfold the treasures that were her moments of creativity. To begin this journey, I set some lyrics my mother composed to Dhanyasi. I hope the composition and the painting that accompanies it is something that she would have envisioned.

Dhanyasi Varnam set to tune by Sreevidhya Chandramouli (lyrics in Telugu by Late Smt. Rajeswari Padmanabhan)

ninnE nera nammiyunnarA
nIrajAksha nAjIvAdhAra
nAdu moravini vega brOva
Inta tAmasa mEla srI vENugOpAla
Srinanda kumAra nannu raksshimchu

I trust you, the lotus-eyed VENugOpAlA from the NandA clan
You are my life-line.
Why delay so much?
I plead you, please make haste and protect me!

Audio Clip Dhanyasi Varnam:

Paintings by: Sreevidhya Chandramouli (1&3) & Ramnath Iyer (2)
Audio clips: Sreevidhya Chandramouli, Chandramouli Narayanan & Kapila & Sushruta Chandramouli

Margazhi in summer!...