Guruvayur Dorai

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Guruvayur Dorai (born July 2, 1935) is one of India's senior-most exponents of the South Indian classical percussion instrument, the mridangam. He had his initial training under Palghat Subba Iyer and E.P. Narayana Pisharody, and later from the legendary master Palani Subramaniam Pillai. Initiating his concert performances at the tender age of eight, Guruvayur Dorai has performed on the concert platform for the past 60 years. His wide range of efforts in the field of mridangam and music have helped propagate the art around the globe.

Early years

An exponent of the Pudukottai style of mridangam, Guruvayur Dorai (his real name being Vaidynathan) was born in Guruvayur, Kerala, to G.S. Krishna Iyer and Meenakshi. His father was a priest and mother, a housewife. He has two brothers and three sisters. His sister Guruvayur Ponnammal was a highly reputed singer at the time. His other sister is a reputed music teacher in Madras, while his brother, G.K.Rajamani is a notable violinist living in Palghat (Kerala).

Young Dorai had a penchant for percussion and was frequently seen drumming on his body with his fingers even while in sleep. Struck by polio at the age of five, his father thought it would be difficult for Dorai to go outside of Guruvayur for higher studies and a job.

There was already a vocalist and a violinist in the family, a mridangist was all that was lacking. So his father decided to sculpt him into one. His father thought Ponnammal, Rajamani and Dorai could give...
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