Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Hamsa Shanmugam, a Saxena Summer Fellow recently dedicated her summer to a captivating exploration of Thevaram, a form of Tamil Saiva devotional music. Her experience offers a glimpse into the profound cultural significance of this unique musical tradition.

Hamsa spent the summer learning from Sargurunathan Odhuvar, a leading Thevaram scholar and the designated temple singer of the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai. The Kapaleeswarar Temple holds a special place in Thevaram literature, making this opportunity even more exceptional.

According to Hamsa, "The Kapaleeswarar Temple is a holy abode of Lord Siva that is revered in Thevaram literature, so it was truly an incredible blessing to have this opportunity."

As a Saxena Summer Fellow, Hamsa's exploration of Thevaram bridges academic curiosity with living cultural heritage. Her commitment to understanding the intricate details of this devotional music form contributes to the ongoing conversation about tradition's relevance. In a constantly evolving world, Hamsa's story reminds us to honor our roots and appreciate the beauty embedded in our shared cultural legacies.