Vehicles slowed down and the passengers were left bemused to see a wedding procession taking gentle steps in the company of two dozen parai aatam artists. As the performers beat the traditional drums with great gusto and enthusiasm, the newly-wedded couple, D Gunasekar and Shamini G, could be seen sharing a broad smile.
Parai is a traditional percussion instrument played at temple festivals, sporting events, funerals, and even weddings. For Gunasekar, the performance, which was held near the Mada Koil marriage hall in Ennore on Wednesday, was a chance for the locals to witness and appreciate the traditional art form. “Not many people play parai at weddings anymore. Usually, there is always a DJ playing the latest songs. I wanted to replace it with our traditional music. When people hear the parai, everyone, from the elderly to the very young, will join the celebrations,” he said.
It is his personal goal to spread awareness about the art form, as well as about his troupe of about 25 performers. “Ennore is well known for producing parai artists. But, nowadays, not many people are turning to traditional music. Many people stopped to ask the musicians if they would perform at their family member’s weddings. This awareness is important. Soon, they might approach other parai artists too. That will help artists earn some money even while helping the art survive,” he said.