I inform with profound grief the demise of Smt. Lalita Nagaraj, a Coimbatore Anbar who has dedicated her entire life for highlighting the glory of Thiruppugazh. Smt. Lalita Nagaraj hailed from a musical family. Her father, a great admirer of the veteran musician and actor, S.G. Kittappa, renamed himself as Kittappa. While her husband, Nagaraj deftly handled Ginjara, her son, Manoj is a good Mridamgam player. Just as any devotional singer, Lalita Nagaraj was also attracted to Guruji Sri A.S. Raghavan and received direct training in Thiruppugazh. As she settled down in Coimbatore later, she has chosen this city as the ideal ground to express her Thiruppugazh passion. She was very particular in singing Thiruppugazh in the Raaga and Thala which Guruji has prescribed. Whenever an Anbar approached her with a request to conduct the Thiruppugazh recital at his house, Smt. Lalita readily obliged and she turned up at the premises sharply at the time specified with all her group members like Sruti, Jaya, Kamala, Kalyani etc. It is a strange coincidence that her group members’ name also sound music.
She even used to enquire the Anbar in advance what are the aspirations of his family and accordingly selected the suitable song for the occasion. She used to conduct Valli Kalyanam regularly in the prescribed manner. In fact, the name of Lalita Nagaraj has become synonymous with Thiruppugazh worship. When Navaratri comes, Smt. Lalita Nagaraj becomes the most sought-after personality. During the entire nine days, she used to give leadership to the scintillating music of Thiruppugazh. In fact, her voice was heard at many residences, Sabhas, temples and halls; the voice that hailed the glory of Lord Muruga in the divine verses of Thiruppugazh. Particular mention should be made about her sense of devotion, dedication, discipline and self-lessness.
N.V. Vaidyanathan, who too conducts Thiruppugazh classes and recitals, was one of the early callers to mourn her demise. He recalled the song ‘Bhakthargana Priya’, where Arunagirinathar said that he would never forget the blessings of Muruga which enabled him to take the glory of Thirppugazh to all directions of the world. (Seppena Vaithu Ulagir Parava Therisithavanugraham Maravene). “Smt. Lalita Nagaraj has also been similarly blessed by Muruga to be able to highlight the glory of Thiruppugazh to all corners”, Sri Vaidyanathan added. She was a born Thiruppugazh singer. Just mention the first few words of a Thiruppugazh song to her and she would give all details about it; its Raaga, Thaala, the place from which Arunagirinathar rendered it, the song number by which it appears in the old book and the new book. She was an ‘Encyclopedia of Thiruppugazh’. Anbargal would very much miss her soul-stirring recital of Thiruppugazh and Virutham from Kandar Alamgaram. “It is very rare to see a Thiruppuhgazh singer who is as humble, as sincere and as dedicated as Smt. Lalita Nagaraj. Hearing her singing, often I forgot myself and was immersed in her divine music, “said Sri Gopal, another ardent student of Smt. Lalita Nagaraj. ‘She was a role model of the principles of Anbu and Avirodha as set out by Guruji for Anbargal’, said another Anbar, Lakshmanan.
Smt. Lalita was as usual conducting her classes and recitals. Suddenly she received a stroke and her neighbours immediately admitted her in the hospital. After being in the ICU for about a week, she was discharged and on reaching home, sitting before the portrait of Lord Muruga, she breathed her last. Many distinguished personalities, Thiruppugazh Anbargal, friends and relations paid homage and floral tribute to her. Some recited few songs of Thiruppugazh. All the Anbargal prayed for her soul to rest in peace at the feet of Lord Muruga. There is no doubt that having followed the path of Thiruppugazh and having dedicated her life for the cause of Thiruppugazh, Smt. Lalita would attain immortality. (Mukthiye Servatharkku Arulvaaye…Bhaktiyal Yaan Unnai Palakaalum)