Chennai’s Manikandan can play 18 different types of instruments, some of which you may have never even heard of.
Fondly known as ‘Sound Mani’, he is on a mission to preserve ancient, rare, and native instruments from across India’s landscape. Fueled by this passion, he first picked up the Parai — a traditional Tamil frame drum.
“During festivities, people would play Parai and dance along. But when I tried to touch it, my family would drag me away. I understood later, that only certain people from the community can play it. I wanted to break that ideology and that’s why I picked it up,” he says. While his decision to pursue music was met with opposition from his family and school, he kept going on.
The instruments he plays include Paun, Muttai Pazham, Udukai, and Irumugam Parai, which are all native instruments. “Everyone wants to learn western music, Carnatic music. But our ancestral music only comes from native instruments. If we keep playing these instruments, then the genre won’t die,” he says.
Some of these instruments date back to the Sangam era, some were used by snake charmers and warriors, and some were used by honey gatherers to communicate in the forest.
Manikandan has also performed at Dubai Expo 2020, representing Tamil Nadu at a global level. He performed in France in 2019 and has travelled to various countries teaching native instruments, with his next stop being Australia.
Watch Manikandan create magic in this video:
Edited by Divya Sethu