Saint Thyagaraja was one of the greatest composers ever to have graced this planet. He lived in the 18th century and composed songs that are sung the most in carnatic classical concerts even today. Details on the saint and his life are available at this link and in many other sites on the net.
The Thyagaraja Aradhana is celebrated every year on the “Bagula Panchami” day when the saint attained “samadhi” and left this world. Musicians from all around the world congregate and sing his songs in the festival that is organized for 4-5 days, one of these days being the “Bagula Panchami” day, in a place called Tiruvaiyaru in Tamil Nadu. The highlight of the festival is the group rendering of Sri Thyagaraja’s “Pancharatna Kritis” – five magnificent compositions of the saint, on the Bagula Panchami day. The event used to be telecast/broadcast live by DD and All India Radio every year. Have been able to see the telecast every year for the past 4 years. Don’t know whether the telecast happened this year (it most probably would have). Couldn’t see it yesterday as I was tied with many other things.
Thyagaraja Aradhana is also done at many places around the world by musicians living in those areas. I was very fortunate to have played in at least two aradhanas every year in Delhi for the past 6-7 years. I don’t know if it is just the case with me but singing or playing for the “Pancharatna Kritis” brings a completely different feeling. The traditional way of singing the compositions preserves their beauty and brings out the meaning of every phrase very well. However the group singing of these kritis at Tiruvaiyaru, may be because it involves so many popular musicians, has been close to a flop show at least for the years that I have heard it. There is a total lack of synchronization between the musicians and this has been discussed/debated in many sites/forums on the net.
Missing the aradhanas a lot this year. Hope to start participating in the aradhanas at one place or the other from next year onwards. Feel really blessed to have been learning Indian Classical Music. Want to continue learning and performing throughout the rest of my life too.