Thevara Isai Mani Saptagurunathan is the one of the faces you will be familiar with if you are a regular at Sri Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore.
He is currently the Odhuvar murthigal for this temple and has been at this post for the past twelve years.
Whenever there is a pooja in the temple, he is there to recite the Thevaaram. There are 18000 odd Thevaarams.
These constitute the first seven volumes of Tirumai, the twelve-volume collection of Tamil Saivite devotional poetry.
To people who are knowledgable and appreciate poetry, the recitation by an odhuvar is a pleasant experience.
Saptagurunathan says he followed in the steps of his forefathers. “I too wanted to become an odhuvar when I was very young,” he told us on the eve of the annual Panguni fest at this temple.
He says his love for music motivated him to join the Thevaara Patashalai in Chidambram at the age of fourteen.
He completed a five -year course and was conferred with the title of Thevaara Isai Mani. He then learnt classical music from B. Achutaraman in Tondairpet, Chennai.
And then got a formal job – being appointed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment.
“This is a government job and there are two of us at Kapali temple,” he told us.
Odhuvars across the state meet at different places to exchange notes; they also get invited to recite and sing at special events / temple festivals.
If you have not got a taste of Saptagurunathan’s recitation, do so the next time you are at Sri Kapali Temple.