Well Versed

(1,300 couplets and one girl. No wonder Sindhuja Ekambaram has been adjudged an expert on Thirukkural, says Ganesh Nagarajan )

We learn Carnatic music, Bharata Natyam or the more adventurous even go for Karate. But here is a thirteen year ­old girl who has all the 1,330 cou­plets of the Tamil epic Thirukkural (short couplets) on her fingertips.

Sindhuja Ekambaram was conferred the title Thirukkural Mamani, last year, by Ulaga Thirukkural Maiyam, a voluntary organisation, which trains stu­dents to recite the epic composed in first century BC. Her citation reads thus: “In 100 different ways Sindhuja has been tested in the recitation of Thirukkural.”

Sindhuja also beat fifty six participants between the age group of four and twenty years, which was held after a gap of eight years.

All this began after an award also. “Sindhuja started to learn Thirukkural after hearing an announcement in the school about the Tamil Nadu CM’s decision to award Rs 1,000 per month to the children well versed in kural,says Sindhuja's mother Usha. “Within a span of 15 days, Sindhuja was able to recite the Thirukkural by heart," recalls Usha who is also Sindhuja's guru.

The 100 different ways in which she was tested included reciting the kural forwards as well as backwards. Just by telling the number of the verse, she was able to recite the kural. What's more, this budding scholar also knows six chapters of Bhagavad Gita, by heart.

All this learning by heart is not confined to kural and the Gita alone. Sindhuja, an eighth stan­dard student at Ramana Vidya Kendra Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Ambattur is a topper in her class also. Says Sindhuja, “I was to become a doctor because a doctor is one who can save the lives of others.” But Sindhuja's mother has other plans. “I Want her to become a Government school teacher, as it would be a permanent job.” This young girl is also a budding poet. She has written five poems and has set them to music by herself. (She is a student of Carnatic music and has given various con­certs). “Though my mother did not encourage me to write poems, she was all praise for me after reading them,” she says.

Apart from Thirukkural, Sindhuja is also quite comfort­able with the languages of Hindi, English, Tamil and Sanskrit. Not limiting herself to reciting vers­es, Sindhuja has branched out into participating in oratorical competitions in all these lan­guages. She recalls the elocution competition in Sanskrit, held at Kolaperumal Chetty Senior Secondary School in which she won the third prize (2000) on the topic Samskrita Sambhashanani with special pride.

Now is the time to be happy with all the awards and prizes. But Sindhuja has now embarked on another course a study ¾ this time, the keyboard.