Sridevi Narayanan

Vacations are meant for relaxing, leisure and mostly for activities that include going for picnics, visiting relatives, playing games, hanging out with friends, shopping and so much more.

Usually our parents won’t allow us to spend it on our own. The only problem that arises during our merry making days is that they will ask us to spend it fruitfully by joining some classes or doing some work. But this time it was me who asked my mother to enrol me into a particular class, that is, Sopana sangeetha a common rendition of the known Sanskrit hymn Gita Govinda or Ashtapathi written by a 12th century Indian poet Jayadeva.

Belting out a Sopana song accompanied with the drum Idakka. Image courtesy:

Belting out a Sopana song accompanied with the drum Idakka.
Image courtesy:

Sopana sangeetham which is usually sung in the temples of Kerala during ceremonial offerings to God is considered sacred.  Temple music is on the verge of decline as there are very few people who practice and propagate this traditional Indian music.

Singing for the gods is the hereditary profession of communities like Marar and Pothuval but gradually this antique art welcomed people from all castes and religions. Who can forget the alluring rendition Kathakali Pada by Kalamandalam Hyderali?

More than a form of classical music Sopana Sangeetham , is a love poetry. The songs describe the celestial love between Lord Krishna and his childhood friend Radha. One can enjoy the magnificence of pure love in those lines like reading the vibrancy of love in the works of Omar Khayyam.

The plain notes in the music unlike classical Indian music, a set of distinct Ragas along with some ragas used in South Indian Carnatic music, Sloka introducing the raga and Thala are some of the characteristics of the temple art.

Sopana sangeetham is usually sung with the accompaniment of musical instruments named ‘chengila’ or idaykka. The potential sound of these traditional instruments amplifies the devotion.

Gita Govinda or Ashtapathi, root of the Sopana sangeetha, has generated a tradition of dance, theatre, music and fine arts. Many of the dance forms like Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Bharathanaatyam among others and some of the Tanjore paintings, Carnatic Music, Bhakti Bhajans have been greatly influenced by this ancient music form

Learning music is refreshing and singing for the gods adds a special charm to it, with that I concluded my vacation.