CHEMBAI MUSIC FESTIVAL
It is actually a part of Ekadasi festival, which is conducted for 15 days and attracts more than 2000 Carnatic musicians. This music festival is in commemoration of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagawathar who was a doyen of Carnatic music and an ardent devotee of the Lord Guruvayurappan.
It is almost a replica of Saint Thyagaraja festival. Earlier it was a three day festival but with the phenomenal rise in the number of participants, the period was extended with artists of all types – young, old, novices, experts, vocalists and instrumentalists are allowed to participate. The highlights of the Utsavam are group singing of saint Thyagaraja’s Pancharatna Krithis on Dasami day by several leading artists. All India Radio and Doordharsan telecast the last few days’ programmmes live.
The day on which Narayaneeyam was completed, 28th Vrichikam, is celebrated by the Devaswom as Narayaneeyam day. Discourses and debates on Narayaneeyam written by Melpathur take place. Special functions are held at Melpathur Illapparambu also.
The Poonthanam day is celebrated on the Aswathi day of the month of Kumbham (February-March) in commemoration of the Saint Poonthanam, a great devotee of the Lord, who enriched Malayalam devotional literature with his renowned poetic composition ‘Jnanapana’, a philosophical work of all times. On this day, recital of Poonthanam’s works and debate takes place. A one week literary festival is conducted at Poonthanam illam.
Krishnanattam is a performing art that combines both piety and art. It is based on a Sanskrit work named “Krishnageethi” written by the Manavedan Raja, a Zamurin king of Kozhikode (Calicut) 350 years ago. The work includes 8 phases of the life of Lord Krishna starting with the incarnation (Avatharam) and ending with the Ascension to Heaven (Swargarohanam).
The salient feature of the ‘Krishnanattam’ is the rhythmic and beautiful dance. The musical instruments used in Krishnanattam are Chengila, Ilathalam (Cimbal), Sankhu (Conch), Sudhamadhalam and Thoppimadhalam.
After Guruvayur Devaswom has taken over the art form Krishnanattam in 1958, the singers have started to use two more musical instruments namely ‘Sruthipetti’ and ‘Idakka’ besides the traditional ones.
In Guruvayur temple the month of June is the vacation for Krishnanattam. July and August are months for rehearsal. Tuesday is weekly holiday.
On all other days , ‘Krishnanattam’ is performed in the temple on demand of devotees. This traditional performing art of Kerala is getting popular and performed not only in other parts of Kerala, but also in many other countries of the world.
If the performance is made in the temple as part of worship, the devotees have to pay the fixed fee and for performance outside the temple, the devotees may pay the fixed charge for the performance.