Mr. Natarajan took to singing hymns from the Tirumurai, there were hundreds who continued the tradition of several centuries when Kings patronised and supported the Oduvars. But now their number has dwindled and he is trying to keep the tradition alive by teaching youngsters this dying art.
Mr. Natarajan has taught about 500 students in the city. Some have migrated abroad and continue to sing from the `Thevaram’ and give concerts in Carnatic music. He has trained about 10 students in `Innisai Kathakalatshebum’. Mr. Natarajan conducts classes in Thevaram and Carnatic music in his house at West Mambalam.
He is the president of the `Oduvar Sangam’ which he started in 1980. On the second Sunday every month, a group of Oduvars congregate in a temple in the city or on the outskirts, take out a procession and sing hymns from the `Thevaram.’ Mr. Natarajan says Oduvars need to have good memory power as there are no notes for Thevaram. Oduvars also perform at weddings and house warming functions.
In his youth, he interacted closely with Maraimalai Adigalar, the Saivaite saint-poet for several years. He learnt Carnatic music from Munisamy Pandithar and the Thevaram from Vinayagamurthy. He toured the State with Vinayagamurthy and sang in temples. Over the years, he started performing on his own. His last big concert in a temple was at the Thanjavur Big Temple where about 150 top musicians in the State had congregated for the consecration in June 1997.