Express press service
TIRUPPUR: Despite announced relaxations after the Covid lockdown, traditional musicians such as Nadhaswaram players and Thavil continue to suffer as wedding planners and party planners cut payment for their performances.
Speaking to TNIE, C Jyothimani (30), a player from Nadhaswaram, said: “I have been a musician for 14 years. But, in my wildest imagination, I never thought that COVID would wreak havoc in my life.Before the COVID lockdown, we used to get payment of Rs 20,000 per wedding event.As part of a five member team, we play wedding twice, 2 to 2, 5am at the wedding reception and 2-3am the next morning (wedding day) But, during COVID, we lost all of these bookings, later when the partial easing was announced, we accepted all wedding event payments without any request. But, when the lock was lifted, we were only offered 10,000 rupees which is half of the payment. When the customers threaten to choose another player, we don’t have no choice but to accept their terms.”
B Manimuthu (39), a Nathaswaram player from Avinashi, claimed that many musicians died by suicide during COVID-19. He said: “Recently a player from Thavil ended his life in Avinashi due to financial issues. There is no room for negotiation in the current scenario. A wedding planner once claimed that he had many players who could even play for a payout of less than Rs. 10,000.”
According to the state organizer of the Tamil Nadu Folk Musicians and Artists Association, KM Ganesan, “There are several thousand folk musicians and drama artists in various districts of Tamil Nadu. It includes drummers Nadhaswaram and Thavil; dancers belonging to Thevarattam, Oyilattam and other folk arts. But, the COVID lockdown has crippled the lives of these artists and musicians. Although the state government has offered compensation of Rs 2,000 , this was not enough.But, later relaxations were announced and weddings began to cut the payment in half.
But, wedding venue owners and planners say market forces decide payment. Also, the performance fee is not set by marriages, they said.
Tiruppur District Marriage Hall Owners Association Secretary, P Loganathan, “Traditional musicians such as Nadaswaram and Thavil players are an integral part of Tamil culture and are most sought after at auspicious events During the two periods of COVID lockdown, the state government imposed a blanket ban on movement Later, with some relaxation, many events were held without these traditional musicians. sold out, the weddings began to negotiate with the traditional musicians and this reduced their remuneration.