Annamayya, Vengamamba descendants undergo training to sharpen their musical calibre

Descendants of Tallapaka Annamacharya and Tarigonda Vengamamba receiving training at the TTD’s Sri Venkateswara Employees Training Academy in Tirupati.

Tallapaka Annamacharya, a 15th-century saint-poet, is remembered for his 32,000 compositions penned on the glory of Sri Venkateswara. Similarly, Tarigonda Vengamamba, an 18th-century saint-poetess, composed scores of devotional songs on the deity of Tirumala.

In the present day, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has engaged the descendant of Annamacharya to sing his compositions during ‘Suprabhatham’ and ‘Ekanta Seva’ and the heir of Vengamamba while offering the famous ‘Muthyala Harathi’ introduced by her, which has now become a generational trademark for her family.

However, it was observed that the descendants required “mentoring” to deliver justice to the iconic hymns. “With no proper mentoring, the descendants have been rendering the same as a ‘service’ and there was never an attempt even by the TTD to upskill the artistes until we identified this ‘talent gap’ and introduced a 15-day refresher course,” explains Sri Venkateswara Employees Training Academy (SVETA) Director Bhuman, who has roped in various in-house agencies.

Sri Venkateswara Bhakti Channel (SVBC) Chairman Sai Krishna Yachendra has volunteered to identify some easier compositions for the ‘learners’, while Sri Venkateswara College of Music and Dance deputed its musicians to teach the nuances to the lot.

Descendant’s perspective

“We have been performing this ‘duty’ all these years without having to learn singing the proper way. Nobody ever expected this expertise from us so far,” admits Annamacharya’s descendant Tallapaka Hari Narayanacharyulu.

“I was employed elsewhere and was suddenly engaged for this singing job. After this training, I am now able to get the lyrics and tune correctly,” says Tarigonda Vengamamba’s descendant Viswa Murthy.

While the TTD initially expected resistance to launching such a programme, the learners eagerly joined the course, welcoming the attempt to identify their deficiencies and help overcome them.

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