In our previous issue
had brought you a detailed feature on the Veena
and other ancient stringed musical
instruments of India
. As promised earlier, we now bring you the second
part of the article, focusing on the ancient wind and percussive instruments
of India. We are pleased by your positive response and feedback for the
previous article and hope you enjoy this one as well.
Wind Instruments of India
We start our journey by exploring the most ancient wind instruments of
The Pungi, also commonly referred to as the Been, is one of the oldest wind
instruments. It is predominantly played by snake
in India and Pakistan. Originally emerging as accompaniment
to Indian folk music, it enjoys an important place in Indian art, culture
and religion even in the present day.
This instrument includes a mouth-blown air reservoir, which is made from
dried bottle gourd. The neck is curved and at the other end, two reed or
bamboo pipes are connected to one another. One of the pipes has seven holes
– the player uses this to play the melody. The sound lasts as long as the
player does not take pauses.
The pungi, which is still a major part of Indian folk music and street
shows, is also considered to be one of the ways by which one can communicate
with the divine.
falls into the woodwind category. This is a reedless wind instrument, which
produces sound from the flow of air via a small aperture. The person playing
a flute is generally referred to as a flautist, flutist or rarely, fluter or
Flutes are ancient musical instruments, dating to over 40,000 years ago.
These have been an integral part of Indian classical music, both Hindustani
and Carnatic. Lord
is always closely associated with the flute.
The bamboo flute, which is largely used in Indian music, was developed
independently of the Western flute. These are simple as compared to the
latter and are keyless as well. Indian flutes are mainly of two types, viz.
the Venu and the Bansuri.
The Venu or Pullanguzhal as it is called, has eight finger holes and is
largely played in South Indian Carnatic music. Most Carnatic musicians use
the cross-fingering technique. At the beginning of the 20th Century, these
flutes featured only seven finger holes. The standard fingering technique
was developed by Sharaba Shastri of the Palladam School. The quality of the
venu depends much upon the type of bamboo used to create it. Experts agree
that the best bamboo can be found in the Nagercoil area in South India.
Method of Playing
While playing the Indian transverse flute, the fingers of both hands are
used to open and close the holes. There is a small opening to blow into and
eight playing holes. This instrument comes in various sizes.
With the right kind of fingering and blowing, the venu is capable of
producing two and half octaves. Sliding the fingers on and off the holes
helps in reproducing gamakas more clearly, thereby improving the quality of
the melody rendered.
The Venu finds prominent mention in Indian
and folklore. It is listed as one of the 3 originally
indigenous instruments in this country; the others being the veena and the
mridangam. The veena-venu-mridangam trio hence enjoys a very important place
in Indian art and culture.
Lord Krishna is usually depicted playing the venu. This is why he is often
addressed as Venugopala. He is believed to be playing the flute in order to
encourage the process of Creation in this world. However, there is no
particular name for the flute that the Lord plays.
It is said that Krishna used to play so melodiously that all the Gopis
(cowherding women) would get mesmerized by his playing and would leave
everything they were doing and simply to rush to his side. Radha
are often depicted together, with him playing his flute
and her standing by his side; dancing to his tunes; or just helping him
play, by holding the instrument for him.
Some of the most famous venuists from the past and present include Sri T.R.
Mahalingam, Dindigul S.P. Natarajan, Sri. T. Viswanathan (disciple of Veena
Dhanammal and brother of Balasaraswati), Sri Flute Mali, Sri N. Ramani,
Prapancham Sita Raman, Sikkil Sisters Kunjumani and Neela, Sikki Mala
Chandrasekhar, Sri K.S. Gopalakrishnan and Sri S. Shashank.
Radha Mesmerised by the Sound of Krishna's
The bansuri is predominantly used in North Indian or Hindustani music. It is
made from a single hollow shaft of bamboo and features six or seven finger
holes. Also associated with cowherds and a pastoral environment, this
instrument plays a central part in depicting the love between Krishna and
Radha; as also the Rasleela
or the Divine Dance of Radha, Krishna and the Gopis. Additionally,
references to the bansuri can be found in Buddhists paintings from about 100
CE. It is believed that not only Radha and the Gopis, but even animals used
to get attracted to the melodies arising from the Lord's flute.
The word 'bansuri' originates from the 2 Sanskrit words, 'bans' (bamboo) and
The typical bansuri is about 14 inches in length, but could vary between
less than 12 inches (muralis) to nearly 40 inches (shankha bansuris). It was
traditionally used as a soprano instrument. The bass variety, which was
popularized by Pannalal Ghosh, is now mostly being used in Hindustani music.
Eventually, what was generally used in folk music, came to be used in
mainstream Indian classical music.
In order to be suitable for playing, the bamboo used to create a bansuri
needs to be thin-walled and straight, with a uniform cross section. The best
quality of bamboo can be found in the forests of Assam and Kerala. The
bamboo is then seasoned, so as to let it strengthen.
After this, a cork stopper is inserted to block one end and the blowing hole
is burnt in. Once all the other holes are burnt in as well, the bamboo is
dipped in a solution of antiseptic oils, is cleaned and dried. Its ends are
then bound with silk or nylon threads, both for ornamental and protective
Longer bansuris with a larger bore feature a lower pitch and the slimmer,
shorter ones are shriller. Since this is a natural woodwind instrument, it
is quite delicate and needs to be maintained with great care.
Famous Bansuri Players
Some of the most famous bansuri players include Pannalal Ghosh, Raghunath
Prasanna, Vijay Raghav Rao, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Nityanand Haldipur,
Rajendra Prasanna, Ronu Majumdar and Pravin Godkhindi.
The Nadaswaram, alternatively referred to as nagaswaram or nathaswaram, is a
double-reed wind instrument, which originated in Tamil Nadu and is widely
used all over South India. Considered to be the world's loudest acoustic
instruments; also one of the most difficult instruments to play; it is
similar to the North Indian Shehnai. It is, however, much longer and larger
than the latter. Due to its sheer intensity of volume, it is mostly
preferred to be an outdoor instrument, as against being an indoor,
In Tamil culture, the Nadaswaram is considered to be a 'mangala vaadyam' or
auspicious instrument. Hence, it is played in almost all South Indian
temples, while conducting temple processions, at weddings, and other major
ceremonies as well. The Nadaswaram finds mention in the ancient treatise,
the Silappathikaram. Here, a similar instrument is referred to as the
This instrument is usually accompanied by a percussive instrument called the
'Thavil'. Another accompaniment used along with the nadaswaram is the
'Otthu', which acts like a sort of drone to keep sustaining the sound. The
Otthu is played by an assistant junior musician, at the main player's side.
The nadaswaram comprises three major parts, namely, kuzhal, thimiru and
anasu. It has a conical structure, which gradually curves to enlarge towards
the lower end, thereby forming a small speaker-like shape at the end. The
top portion has a mel anaichu or metal staple, into which is inserted the
kendai or metallic cylinder, which houses the mouthpiece, made of reed.
Several spare reeds are attached as well. A tiny ivory or horn needle is
attached as well, in order to clear the reed of saliva or other impurities,
thereby allowing for free flow of sound. The keezh anaichu is a metallic
bell, which forms the bottom of the instrument.
Traditionally, the nadaswaram is made from a tree called aacha. However,
nowadays, artisans use a variety of other materials, such as sandalwood,
bamboo, copper, brass, ebony and ivory. Aged wood is considered best to
craft a nadaswaram – sometimes, the wood procured from old demolished
houses is used.
The nadaswaram has seven playing holes and five additional ones at the
bottom, which is used to manipulate tone. Since there are seven holes played
with seven fingers, it is also referred to as the 'Ezhil'. It covers a range
of two and half octaves. Semi-tones and quarter-tones are produced by
adjusting the pressure and intensity of the air-flow into the pipe.
Incidentally, there is a smaller version of the nadaswaram, which is widely
used in folk music. This is referred to as the 'mukhavina'.
Some of the most famous nadaswaram players include Karukurichi Arunachalam
Pillai, Thiruvavadudurai Rajaratnam Pillai, Thiruvengadu Subramania Pillai,
Andankoil A.V. Selvarathnam Pillai, Thiruvizha Jayashankar, Semponnarkoil
Brothers SRG Sambandam and Rajanna, Sheik Chinna Moulana and Namagiripettai
Various foreign musicians developed a fascination for the nadaswaram and
some even performed the instrument live and in recordings. These
personalities include composer Lewis Spratlan, musicians such as Charlie
Mariano, Vinny Golia J.D Parran, William Parker and German saxophonist
The Shehnai, also referred to as shenai, shahnai or simply, mangal vadya, is
common in North India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is a quadruple-reed
woodwind instrument, which has a wooden flared bell at the lower end. The
sound it produces puts it in the category of an auspicious instrument, which
can sanctify the atmosphere. Hence, like the nadaswaram, the shehnai too is
used during temple processions, marriages and other sacred ceremonies
conducted in North India.
The shehnai is a tubular instrument, which broadens into a sort of bell at
the lower end. It usually has about six to nine holes and makes use of one
set of quadruple reeds. Melodies are played on it by controlling the breath.
This instrument admits of a range of two octaves.
Occasionally, two shehnais are tied together and played to create an
instrument similar to the Greek Aulos.
Lord Ganesha Playing Shehnai
Some experts believe that the shehnai evolved from the basic pungi or been.
Yet others aver that the name 'shehnai
originated from the words 'sur' and 'nal', which literally mean, 'tune' and
Shehnai players were most popular all over North India, Goa and the Konkan
region. The shehnai players, called Vajantri, would serve by playing in the
temples of these regions. Each one of them were allotted lands for services
Notable shehnai artists include Bismillah Khan, Anant Lal, Ali Ahmed Hussain
Khan, Daya Shankar and Ali Hussain.
Bowed Instuments of India
is an ancient Indian bowed, short-necked, fretless instrument. Also used in
Nepal; especially all over the Western part of Nepal; this forms a vital
part of Hindustani classical music. Its timbre and resonance makes it sound
very close to the human voice.
Some experts believe that the word 'sarangi' comes from the two words,
'saar' (essence) and 'ang' (part of the song or melody). According to folk
etymology, the sarangi derived its name from the term, 'sol rang', which
literally means, 'a hundred colors'. This indicates its versatility,
flexibility and capability to reproduce just about any melody, gamaka or
meend (ornamentation) that the human voice can create. The word 'sarang' has
multiple meanings in Sanskrit and so, there is no one definitive reason for
the instrument to have gotten this name.
The sarangi is carved from a single block of red cedar wood. It has a
box-like shape with three hollow chambers, namely, pet (stomach), chhaati
(chest) and magaj (head). It is usually about 2 feet in length and about 6
inches wide. One can find variations in size though. The strong bridge
supports heavy sympathetic steel or brass strings and 3 main gut strings,
which pass through it. The gut strings are bowed with a heavy horsehair bow
– the movement of this is controlled with the fingernails, cuticles and
the surrounding flesh. Extremely difficult to master, this instrument is
also painful to play.
Besides these, the sarangi features 35-37 sympathetic strings, which are
divided into 4 'choirs', having two sets of pegs. On the inside, there is
the chromatically tuned row of 15 tarabs and on the right is the diatonic
row of 9 tarabs. Each of these support a full octave, plus 2-3 extra notes,
as and when needed.
Owing to the extreme difficulty presented by the instrument, the art of
sarangi playing is slowly fading out; with very few artists in existence
today. However, some modern performers and composers have made use of this
wonderful instrument in their works. Some of the most famous names include
A.R. Rahman, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Surinder Sandhu, Howard Shore, Nitin
Sawhney, Robert Miles, Talvin Singh and Ahsan Ali.
The Dilruba, a very ancient musical instrument, is somewhat of a cross
between the sitar
and the sarangi. Very much similar to the Esraj and the Mayuri Veena, the
main difference lies in the shape of the resonators and the way the
sympathetic strings attach themselves to the instrument. This is a popular
instrument in Northwest India and can be found predominantly in Punjab,
Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The neck of the dilruba consists of about 18 strings. It is tuned similar to
the sitar and much like the latter, most of the playing is done on one main
stings. It is a fretted instrument, with the sympathetic strings helping the
player sustain the mood the melody as he plays.
Method of Playing
The dilruba, being a bowed instrument, is played like the sarangi. It is
bowed with the right hand and played using fingers of the left hand. While
some schools mainly use the index finger and the middle finger as the
secondary finger, like playing the sitar; other schools give more precedence
to the use of the middle finger, treating the index finger as subsidiary.
The technique of playing meend is different from the sitar. While the sitar
player usually pulls the string along the frets to play semitones and
quartertones, the dilruba player merely slides his fingers on the concerned
fret, in order to achieve the same sound.
The Ravanahatha, alternatively referred to as the Ravana Hasta Veea,
Ravanahattha, Ravanhatta and Ravanastron, is one of the most ancient bowed
instruments of India. This was one popular in Western India and Sri Lanka as
well. Incidentally, this instrument is believed to have inspired the
creation of the violin and the viola, at a much later time.
The Sinhalese believe that the Ravanahatha originated among their Hela
civilization, during the rule of their King, Ravana
In India, this instrument is believed to exist since 5000 BC. In fact, an
instrument, which closely matches this description, can still be found in
the remote villages of Rajasthan. It also finds mention in the tales of
Ravana, in the epic Ramayana
Legend has it that Ravana, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, used to
play this instrument in order to please and appease his Lord. It is said
that, after Rama defeated and killed Ravana, Hanuman picked up the
Ravanahatha and returned with it to North India. From India, it traveled to
the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the Western World; then finally
giving rise to the violin and the viola in their present form.
A study of the history of Medieval India reveals that the kings and royal
princes, who were also patrons of music, helped increase the popularity of
the Ravanahasta, throughout Rajasthan and Gujarat. Furthermore, the Sangit
tradition of Rajasthan encouraged princes; and later; even the royal ladies,
to learn to play the instrument.
The bowl of the ravanahatha, which is made of coconut shell, is covered with
goat hide. Then a dandi or a stem, made of bamboo, is attached to this
shell. The 2 main playing strings are made from steel and horsehair,
respectively. These are attached to the instrument with two huge pegs,
around which they are wound.
Apart from the 2 main strings are 8-12 sympathetic strings, which are
attached to smaller pegs. The bow is slightly concave and, to its end, are
fitted bells, which are meant to provide rhythmic accompaniment.
Percussive Instruments of India
Ganesha Playing the Mridangam
is one of the most ancient percussive instruments of India and serves as
primary rhythmic accompaniment for South Indian Carnatic music; in Bharatanatyam
and other classical dance forms; and in other forms such as Yakshagana as
well. In a Carnatic performance, the mridangam is given a significant place
for playing solo – this is referred to as the 'tani' or 'tani avartanam'.
Here, the mridangist plays his or her solo, alternating with the other
upapakkavadyams present onstage. After each plays alternating solo pieces
that gradually taper in length, they all come together for the grand finale,
which ends in a crescendo of sound and rhythm.
Besides India, it is predominantly used in parts of Nepal, Sri Lanka,
Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries of the West as well. It is
often accompanied by upapakkavadyams (secondary instruments) such as the
ghatam, kanjira and morsing.
The mridangam gave rise to the elaborated and complex tala (rhythm) system
of Carnatic music. Earlier, it was used only as accompaniment. However,
today, it plays the central role in rhythmic ensembles such as a Tala Vadya
Kutcheri (featuring mainly percussive instruments playing together;
sometimes using vocal or instrumental music as accompaniment).
In early Tamil culture, this instrument was known as the 'tannumai'. The
word mridangam is derived from the two Sanskrit words, 'mrida' (earth or
clay) and anga (limb or part). Earlier, mridangams were made of the
above-mentioned materials. Today, it is made mainly from wood of the
The Mridangam finds a prominent place in several ancient Hindu temples,
sculptures and paintings, especially all over South India. Deities such as Ganesha
are believed to have played the mridangam and the maddalam to provide
rhythmic accompaniment for Shiva's tandava (Cosmic dance). Hence, this is
also terms as the Deva Vadyam; the Divine Instrument. Incidentally, this
instrument was also played at the start of war, along with others such as
murasu, tudi and parai, as it was believed to be sacred and had the power to
protect the king and his army.
The mridangam is a double-sided drum, the body of which is hollowed out from
jackfruit wood, which is usually about an inch thick. The two open ends are
covered with goatskin and laced together with leather straps, tying around
the circumference of the drum. These straps are held in place under high
tension, so as to stretch the membrane; thus resonating the instrument when
The two membranes are different, so as to produce bass and treble sounds.
The smaller membrane produces a shriller sound when struck and the wider
aperture helps produce sounds of lower pitch. The goatskin covering the
smaller end is called 'valanthalai' or 'bala bhaaga' and features a black
disk in the center. This is made of rice flour, ferric oxide powder and
starch. This dark tuning paste is referred to as the 'saadam' or 'karanai'
and gives the instrument its metallic sound. The bass end, on the other
hand, is known as the 'thoppi' or 'eda bhaaga'. The combination of these two
different ends creates the production of the instrument's unique harmonic
Method of Playing
Just before a performance, the membrane covering the wider aperture is made
moist with a little semolina paste applied onto its center. This helps the
bass end resonate to its full power. The mridangist then tunes the
instrument, by manipulating the leather straps. The straps are struck with a
heavy object (usually a stone) or sometimes a hammer-like tool. A 'pullu' or
wooden peg is sometimes placed between the stone and the mridangam, in order
to achieve maximum tension of the straps.
Striking the periphery of the right membrane in the direction of the hull
raises the pitch, while striking it in the opposite direction lowers it.
Since the leather straps are interwoven across the length of the instrument,
adjusting the tension on one side can affect the tuning of the other side as
Once the instrument is tuned, the mridangist places it parallel to the
floor, resting upon his or her right foot and ankle. A right-handed
mridangist places the smaller membrane on his or her right and the larger
membrane on the left side. This traditional playing posture is switched to
the other side for left-handed players.
Some of the most famous mridangists from past and present include Nagercoil
Ganesa Iyer, Palana Subramaniam Pillai, Palghat Mani Iyer, Palghat R. Raghu,
Mavelikkara Velukkutty Nair, Vellore G. Ramabhadran, Umayalpuram K.
Sivaraman, T.S. Nandakumar, Karaikudi Mani, Yella Venkateswara Rao, Trichy
Sankaran, T.V Gopalakrishnan, Mannargudi Easwaran, Thiruvarur
Bakthavathsalam and Thiruvarur Vaidyanathan.
like the mridangam, is a membranophone percussion instrument. It is used as
primary accompaniment in North Indian Hindustani classical music. Besides
India, it can be found in Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Indonesia and Sri Lanka as well. A tabla player is commonly referred to as a
This instrument consists of a pair of hand drums of different sizes and
therefore, different timbres. The main drum is referred to as a table or
dayan (literally, "right") and is played with the tabalchi's dominant hand.
This is conical in shape and is made from wood. Its tightly fitted skin
helps in the production of its distinctive pitch, when struck.
The larger drum is lower in pitch and is called bayan (literally, "left").
It consists of a bowl-shaped metal shell. Because the skin covering it is
looser, it enables the tabalchi to manipulate the sound while playing.
There is mention of the tabla right from the Vedic period in India. Some
believe that its construction was inspired from the mridangam, and that the
latter was actually halved, to create the two drums of the tabla. However,
some others believe that the tabla was in existence far before the mridang
came into the scene. The Sangita Ratnakara, one of the most important
treatises on music, written by Sarangadeva, speaks of an instrument closely
resembling the tabla. Ancient Hindu temples carvings both in North and South
India, dating back to 500 BCE, show double-hand drums, looking very much
like the tabla.
Legend has it that the instrument was first invented by the Turkish Sufi
poet, Amir Khusro, during the 13th Century. He felt the need for a rhythmic
instrument, which would also support the complex rhythmic structures of his
compositions. However, there is no official mention of this in his writings
The smaller drum is usually made from teak and rosewood, which is hollowed
out to about half of its depth. This drum is tuned to a particular pitch
that complements the singer's melody. Cylindrical blocks of wood, called
ghatta, are inserted between the strap and the shell, thus enabling the
player to tune them to his or her preference. Fine tuning can be achieved by
striking vertically on the head, using a small hammer-like tool. The larger
drum can be made of a variety of materials, including brass, copper,
aluminum or steel. Earlier, wood or clay was used, though this was found to
be much less durable.
Both drums are covered with a head made from goat or cow skin. An outer skin
is overlaid over the main skin – this suppresses some of the overtones.
These two skins are held in place by means of a complex woven strap braid,
which also sustains the tension on the shell. The head of each drum has a
tuning paste in the center, called the syahi, which is made using several
layers of paste made from rice or wheat starch and a black powder procured
by mixing various ingredients. Each of these drums is positioned onto a
circular ring, called chutta or guddi, for stability and balance. This is
made from plant fiber or similar material, wrapped in thick cloth.
Unlike Mridangists and Pakhawaj players, who play sideways and largely use
the full palm for playing; Tabalchis use a complex finger tip and hand
technique, playing it from the top. This allows the tabalchi to create
different types of sounds while playing. Needless to say, finger technique
slightly varies from gharana (music school) to gharana.
Some of the most noteworthy tabalchis of the past and present include
Ahmedjaan Thirkwar, Bapu Patwardhan, Alla Rakha Khan, Hamid Hussein, Shankar
Ghosh, Bickram Ghosh, Zakir Hussain, Sharda Sahai, Trilok Gurtu, Nayan
Ghosh, Talvin Singh, Aloke Dutta, Vijay Ghate and Anuradha Pal.
is a two-headed hand-drum, used mainly in the folk music of India. It is
somewhat similar to the larger Punjabi Dhol and the smaller dholki. Besides
India, similar instruments can be found in Pakistan, Suriname, Jamaica,
Guyana, the Fiji islands, Sri Lanka and Netherlands as well. Due to its firm
rooting in folk music, it is fairly simple and lacks the advanced tuning and
playing techniques of other percussive instruments such as the mridangam,
tabla and the pakhawaj. The drum is pitched depending on its size.
The smaller end of the dholak is created with goatskin – this is also the
shriller end. The bigger surface, made of buffalo skin, is more bass and
gives a lower pitch. The shell is sometimes crafted out of sheesham wood.
However, usually this instrument is made from cheaper wood, such as mango.
Dholaks and dholkis in Sri Lanka are made from hollowed out coconut palm
The dholak is very widely used, almost all over North, Eastern and Western
India, during functions and festivities. It is mostly used in the Bhangra
the sprightly folkdance of Punjab; in Lavani, the vibrant folkdance form of
Maharashtra; during bhajan, kirtan (devotional song and dance) and qawwali
sessions as well.
This instrument prominently features in pre-wedding festivities – children
and women dance to ladies singing and playing the dholak. Additionally, it
is also used in filmi sangeet (music) and at baithaks (informal chamber
Panchavadyam, which literally means, "orchestra of five instruments", is a
temple art form that developed in Kerala. The five instruments included in
this unique ensemble are timila, maddalam, ilathalam, idakka and kombu. Of
these, only the kombu is a wind instrument. All the rest are percussive
The panchavadyam features a pyramid-like rhythmic structure, which steadily
increases in tempo, with a directly proportionate decrease in the number of
beats per tala cycle. Though it is a temple art form, this does not relate
to any particular temple ritual – the artists too use personal
improvisation to add more shades to the performance.
Spanning about two hours, this orchestral performance consists of both
composed and improvised parts. Like in Panchari and other types of chenda
melam, the Panchavadyam too features artists lined up opposite each other,
forming an oval-shaped pattern.
Mainly developed by the late maddalam artists such as Venkichan Swami,
Madhava Warrier, Annamamada Achutha Marar and Chengamanad Sekhara Kurup,
later actively promoted by idakka maestro Pattirath Sankara Marar, the
present style of panchavadyam came into existence in the 1930s.
Temples Featuring Panchavadyam
One can find several temples in Kerala, which traditionally host
panchavadyam performances. Major festivals featuring these ensembles are
Thrissur Pooram (the "Madhathil Varavu" is a big event here), Nadappura
Panchavadyam at the Vadakknacheri Siva Temple, Pariyanampatta pooram, Kaladi
Panchavadya Utsavam, Vayilliamkunnu Pooram, Tirumandhamkunnu pooram
purappadu, Tripunithura Sree Poornathrayeesa Aarattu, Tripunithura
Thamaramkulangara Makaravilakku, Thiruvona Mahotsavam at Sree Vamanamoorthy
Temple, and Thrikkakara and Cherpulassery Ayyappan Kavu Ulsavam.
Prominent temples such as the Perum Thrikkovil at Ramamangalam, the ancient
Pallassana Meenkulathi Bhagavathi Temple, Chottanikkara, Irinjalakuda,
Vaikom, Ambalapuzha, Odakkali, Perumbavur, Pazhur, Chengamanad, Elavoor,
Chennamangalam, Kottakkal Viswambhara Temple, Kottakkal Pandamangalam
Sreekrishna Temple, Chembuthara Kodungallur Bhagavathi Temple and so on,
regularly host panchavadyam events during their important festivals.
Institutions Imparting Training in Panchavadyam
The art of playing in a panchavadyam ensemble is one that requires much
training and effort on the part of the artists involved. Some of the most
well-known institutions imparting training in this art form in Kerala
include Kerala Kalamandalam and Kshetra Kalapeetham in Vaikom. Sri
Thrikkampuram Krishnankutty Marar from Ramamangalam, a famed artist himself,
trained several others in the art. In fact, it is said that most of the
panchavadyam ensembles in Kerala would feature at least one of his direct
While Panchavadyam largely remains a temple tradition yet, it is slowly
gaining prominence outside temples those precincts as well. One can now
watch it being performed at non-religious events as well, including at
Indian and international cultural events; in order to welcome political and
other dignitaries and so on.
We have touched upon only a few of the prominent musical instruments from
India. There are numerous more we have not enlisted here. In addition India
boasts of countless folk or tribal music instruments which, though primitive
and simple in nature, are none the less musical. India is full of vivid
sounds and these musical instruments are the tools with which these sounds
are given form and presented to the world.