Srimathe Ramanujaya Namaha
We have all heard of child prodigies. Prodigies are children who not only possess innate talent but also know how to communicate them well to the world outside. That ability makes them unique. Do you know the prodigy we worship every day? She is the first spiritual girl child prodigy, our own Andal! Her two compositions have been completely squeezed by the Acharyas to bring out their inner most meanings.
Once when the demon Hiranyaksha hid the earth under the primordial waters, then Sri Varaha rescued earth from there after destroying Hiranyaksha. It is during that time when Bhoomi Pirattiyar asks Varaha Emperuman a solution for earthlings to reach Him easily. He said that one can reach Emperuman by serving Him through their senses. These words were later retold to us by Bhoomi Pirattiyar when she incarnated as Andal. Andal grew up as an ardent devotee in the household of Bhattarpiran (Periyazhwar). Even as a young child, Andal was very much devoted to Emperuman and couldn’t bear His separation for which she sent clouds as messengers and eventually married Him. But we were not present when all these happened. So all we can do is to just visualize the events in our mind.
Enacting the prodigy’s life: Recently,in a huge congregation of people at the 5th Hindu spiritual and services fair held at Chennai, the children of Srimaan Bhattar Kuzham got a chance to perform a dance drama on the life of Andal. The evening of 23rd February 2013 was indeed very special for every spectator. The events of Andal’s life were set to Bharathanatyam steps and the drama started with the background behind Andal’s birth (Bhoomi Pirattiyar’s avatharam) and covered the entire life of Andal up to Andal’s marriage to the prince of Srirangam (Namperumal).
As the curtains drew to a close with Andal ,Rangamannar and Periazhwar standing together, there very few claps from the public. The stunned volunteers and children looked up to the crowd and understood why there were few claps. Most of the spectators were standing with tears flowing down their cheeks. The event had transported them to the era of Andal and Periazhwar. They ‘witnessed’ the marriage in reality. Hence, such a bhakthi filled reaction from one and all.
Among the hundreds of stalls representing various aspects of Hinduism in the Hindu Spiritual Fair, Srivaishnavism was represented by a very few institutions and our Trust was one among the few.
Slogging after school hours : Any form of performing arts will come out nicely only if sufficient ground work had been done before the event and this one is no exception. The children of SBK were dedicated to come and practice every day after school hours. The practice sessions went so long that it not only spanned the entire evenings but even stretched up to 10pm at night! The age of the participants ranged from five to 20 which is once again too diverse to co-ordinate.
The girl who transformed… The girl who reprised the role on Andal did an extremely commendable job. It is wrong to tell she imitated Andal. The girl used to come to practice everday at evening. For the first two weeks, she was taught no dance. She used to read the commentary of Thiruppavai and Nachiar thirumozhi without missing a single pasuram. With every word that entered her mind, the feelings of Andal too made way into her being. The subtle aspects of Andal’s deep love for Emperuman and the way the feelings took shape into events in her life were imbibed by this girl. In two weeks, she became Andal.
Co-ordinated effort : The children, guided by Ammangar held responsibilities in an organized manner and not to forget the volunteers who helped during practice. Even the lyrics for the play as well as narration were prepared by a Trust volunteer at Chennai. There was also a role of a soothsaying lady done by a child with minimal practice (she learnt the step on the morning of the programme) which was guided by this volunteer.
Special sounds : when Andal laments the separation from Emperuman, she hears the parrots sing the name of Govinda. In the dance-drama, when this segment was enacted, the sound of a parrot singing Govinda’s name were beautifully played. Like this, many voice clips were used to enhance the effect of the dance-drama.
At least from now on, no one can regret that they didn’t attend Andal’s wedding. The photos of the event are here in a link. Interested persons can join hands and organize the event at their place. This is one of the best means to promote the life of our own Andal.