53 year old MSR Parameswaran, who has been performing for four decades in Utsavams across TN, came all the way from Irumbu Thalai, a village 15kms from Thanjavur bringing along with him 5 artistes. Talking to Mylapore Times from his home, he said that he immediately paid his juniors but he himself has not received the amount from the temple “Covid has meant that our financial situation is really bad and the non-payment of our Sambhavanai affects us very badly”
Senior nagaswaram artistes from outside the city who had performed at Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple’s Panguni Brahmotsavam in March this year say they have not been paid. Some 45 days have lapsed now.
While the devotees enjoyed the performance every evening during the street processions, the payment to these artistes has not yet been made.
Asked about it, D. Kaveri, the EO of the temple says the past years, engaging and paying top artistes was not in the temple’s utsavam budget. “We set aside about Rs.2,000 for each troupe.”
( Now this fact itself says poorly of the HR&CE Dept of the state on the value it lays on top class artistes, mostly who travel from villages and have put in years of performance)
Asked why then were artistes still engaged when it was clear to temple team it did not have money for professional payments, Kaveri says, “I was on leave.”
However, the back story is different – the nagaswaram artiste of the temple helps to fix guest artistes and for the big occasions, prefers big names as has been the tradition. The past years, the thakkar, who is Vijaykumar Reddy has been paying the artistes.
This season, the thakkar says he made it known that expenses must be kept tight. It is not clear what was agreed to, in the booking of outstation artistes.
It is unclear as to what was promised to / agreed to the artistes. The EO says the amount due to one troupe is Rs.2000 as per temple budget. The name of the sponsor was also printed in posters.
The artistes seem to have been left high and dry now, more so in these depressing times when they too have no private engagements that help them earn.
46 year old Srinivasan K G who has been performing in Utsavams across TN for the last 30 years came from Kalyanapuram, near Thiruvayaru along with his troupe. He says that he has been following up for the last one and a half months but has not received the payment “In these challenging times, we are left wondering as how long can we follow up and as to when we will get our payment.”
President of the Temple Worshippers Society T R Ramesh, who tweeted the Mylapore Times story this morning says that he plans to write to the Commissioner within 2 days if he does not hear about payment being made to the nagaswaram artistes “Uma Anandan, VP of Temple Worshippers Society had already spoken to the EO of Sri Kapali Temple long back but till date the payment remains unpaid.”
It is now learnt that the thakkar intends to do what is best for the artistes in course of time.