Thiruvananthapuram: Legendary Carnatic singer and Padmashree awardee, Parassala B Ponnammal, who enchanted classical music lovers for the last eight decades through her incredible performances, passed away at her home in Valiyasala on Tuesday, as reported by the family sources.
Ponnammal, a doyen of Carnatic music, broke all the gender stereotypes in classical music, as she became the first woman to enroll in the historic Swathi Thirunal College of Music during the 1940s. She had completed the courses-Gana Bhushanam and Gana Praveena- from there with the first rank before starting her career as a music teacher at the Cottonhill Girls’ School. She also changed history by becoming the first woman faculty of the Swathi Thirunal College and the first-ever woman principal of the famous RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, Tripunithura.
She was also the first woman to sing in the Navaratri Mandapa as part of the Navaratri celebrations at Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in 2006, breaking centuries-old traditions of male dominance.
‘Guruvayur Puresa Suprabhatham’, ‘Trisivapuresa Suprabhatahm’, ‘Ulsava Prabhandam’, ‘Navarathri Kriti’, ‘Meenambika Sthothram’, and compositions of Irayamman Thampi were among her famous vocal performances.
Aside from conducting hundreds of concerts during her eight decades of musical explorations, she also molded a handful of excellent musicians by making them her disciples.
Besides the Padma Shri in 2017, Ponnammal was also a receiver of several notable honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award instituted by Chennai Fine Arts, Sangeetha Prabhakara Award, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram, Sree Guruvayurappan Chembai Puraskaram and so on.
She is survived by two sons, D Mahadevan and D Subramanian. Her husband Devanayakam Iyer and a son and daughter pre-deceased her.
Condoling her death and praising her contributions to the word of music, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Ponnammal had been a representative of traditional tranquility in Carnatic music. He also remembered how the legendary woman musician had performed at the Navaratri Mandapa by challenging the tradition.