“For as long as I can remember, music has always had a way to lure me into it. My body and my feet start to act out of their own accord. The very beat of the parai is quite phenomenal in regards to that it can immediately elevate the mood around the area. Growing up in the native district of Krishnagiri, I have had a fair number of memorable experiences in temple thiruvizhas and events where this instrument used to be a common sight.
But moving to the city for work entailed a cultural shock and stress with a fast-paced lifestyle with work and family. As the pressure started to mount on me, I sought for means to get a break from the race. As I started to search online for parai performances, I came across this organization called ‘Nimirvu Kalaiyagam’. This was an organization that were offering classes for parai enthusiasts to learn the instrument and spread the beauty of it everywhere.
I went in for the first class and I was smitten. This is all I had needed to get away from the stress. As I got to know more about the instrument, the history slowly unraveled for me and it is so fascinating to even think about it.
In our class, we have people who are as young as three going up to 50 and 60. We have a diverse group of people take these classes along with us and we are probably the first group to introduce parai in Bharatanatyam.
People hold a lot of misconceptions about this instrument – that it is played only during death ceremonies but we have an unspoken oath to not play during such times. As the word of our organization spread, we have been invited to perform at weddings, baby showers, college events, and recently, at all the metro stations in Chennai for the new year’s eve.
The performances and the practice sessions often go up to an hour and more but there is no question of any of us feeling tired or fatigued. We continue performing and dancing without feeling the least bit exhausted.
Parai is an ancient cultural symbol of Tamil Nadu and the idea is to bring everyone to understand the beautiful history behind this instrument and get everyone to learn this just to preserve our cultural heritage. I have been missing classes due to lockdown but I never miss a chance to practice it whenever I get the time.”
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