Guruvayur Chembai Music Festival

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As part of the Ekadasi festival, a 11-day Chembai music festival is organised, in which an incredible array of some 2,000 Carnatic musicians give off their best. A vast gathering of musicians and rasikas assemble to pay homage to the late Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, the doyen of Carnatic music

and a great devotee of Guruvayurappan,

 

in whose memory the festival is held

 

It is almost as though Tiruvaiyar(where the famous aradhana festival is held every January to honor the memory of Saint Thyagaraja) is transplanted to Guruvayur.(See Chapter,Minstrels of Divine Glory for the full story of Chembai. ) A highlight of the utsavam is the group singing of Saint Thyagaraja's famous Pancharatna Kritis on dasami day by several leading musicians, which contributes to the grandeur of the occasion.

A similar group concert mark the end of the festival on the night of Ekadasi. This includes five of Chembai's most favorite songs 'Vadapiganapatim'(Hamsadhwani) 'Rakshmamsaranagatam' (Natta), 'paavanaguru pavanapuradeeswara' (Hamsanandi) 'Mamava sadaajanani'(Kanada) and 'Karuna Cheivan entu thamasam Krishna'(Yadukula kamboji).

The entire audience join the chorus when the last mentioned song is sung with devotion and fervor, the music reverberating the hall sending everyone to ecstasy

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