P Saravanan plays nadaswaram in front of a shop at Vedasandur in Dindigul

DINDIGUL: It’s a barter trade like none other. Music that’s meant for Gods is being sold on the streets of Dindigul and the cost is just a few kilos of rice and dal.
For Dindigul musician P Saravanan, who had played nadaswaram all his life before Gods at temples and couples at weddings, his ‘vidhwat’ on the street is what is putting the food on the table for his seven-member family.
The 43-year-old artist from a family of ‘vidhwans’ has always been struggling to make ends meet with his measly earning of 10,000 per month. The corona lockdown has written the denouement to that, too.
“If I take money it would mean begging. I play a song or raga standing in front of a shop and ask them for some rice, dal or food, not money,’’ says the artist from Ketchinipatti village near Vedasandur in Dindigul district, still immensely proud about his art and skill.
A fourth-generation nadaswaram player, Saravanan decided to take up his family vocation after completing Class VIII. The sole breadwinner has to support mother Vanadevi, wife Muthulakshmi, three daughters and a five-year-old son with learning disability.
“I used to earn about 10,000 a month in four or five programmes at weddings and temple festivals. As my needs are limited, I was able to run my family,’’ says Saravanan.
After months without job due to the lockdown, the family has exhausted all its savings and government dole of 1,000 and groceries. “I have to feed my children. Even when I had programmes I used to borrow from shops near my village but repay the money after a performance. Now I am reluctant to ask for groceries because I don’t know when I will start earning and pay them back,’’ he said.
Shopkeepers like Pandi in Vedasandur, who lend a helping hand to Saravanan, say it is auspicious to listen to nadaswaram music. “We know that we can hear it only in festivals and marriages and give it the due respect,’’ he says.