Monday night at Sri Kesava Perumal Temple presented a very different picture.
The Horse Vahana procession of Kesava Perumal and the enactment of the Vedu Pari episode had been done with and the Lord had returned to the Vahana Mandapam.
Typically, this would have marked the end of the day’s events. Not so on the night for the devotees were going to be in for a musical treat.
At 10.30pm, corporate professional P. Vasanth Kumar, a disciple of Pichumani Iyer, along with his two disciples Nithya Ramesh and Meera Seshadri began a 60 minute veena concert with a Varnam in Mandari Ragam. Over the next hour, the three of them took devotees back in time to the ancient temple towns where kutcheris on brahmotsavam nights were an integral part of the annual festival till about 60 years ago.
Contrasted with the loud noise and the beating of the drums that marked the Vedu Pari event at the northern end of the Solaiappan Street earlier in the evening, Sri Kesava Perumal temple complex was quiet at this late hour.
Some 25 devotees gathered around the veena artistes to listen to their devotional rendering even as the priests were decorating Kesava Perumal and Sri and Bhoo Devi Thaayar for the special Serthi Sevai that was to follow the veena kutcheri.
Vasanth Kumar and his disciples presented compositions from music legends Muthuswamy Deekshithar (Sri Lakshmi Varaham, Ranganayakam, Sri Venkata Gireesham), Thyagarajar (Nenarunchara) and Papanasam Sivam (Narayana Divya Naamam) with the devotees humming in delight. The artistes completed their presentation accompanied by the ringing of the sacred bell signifying the readiness of the Lord to provide the special sevai at the Kannadi Arai.
Shortly after 11.30pm, the priests switched off the tube lights inside the kannadi arai and the devotees were provided a rare devotional treat – a Serthi Sevai darshan in ghee lit lamp something you don’t often see in temples these days.