Abu Dhabi: Indian 'singing priest' brings people together with his music

The clergyman will be sharing his life experiences during a live concert in the Capital on Sunday


Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Sat 15 Oct 2022, 5:34 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Oct 2022, 8:13 PM

Music can create positive changes in our lives. It has a universal language that transcends culture and religion, said a visiting catholic priest from Kerala, who is popularly known as the ‘singing priest’ in India.

“Human personality is a combination of positive and negative energies. It is a struggle between these two energies. When we are filled with positive energy of goodness, it leads us to generosity and when we are led by negative energy, I will be generating only negative energy. Music helps us to fill ourselves with positive energy,” said Father Dr Paul Poovathingal, who will render Carnatic songs at the India Social and Cultural Centre Abu Dhabi (ISC) on Sunday. He is the first Christian priest to obtain a PhD in Carnatic music.

“I will sing songs promoting national integration. Islamic, Hindu and Christian devotional songs and prayers like ‘Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu’ (May everyone, in the whole world, be happy). In 2007, I performed such a combination before then President APJ Abdul Kalam at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kalam sir remarked that I had created a new path in Indian classical music by integrating world religions and prayers. He pointed out that religious integration through music is the need of the hour, and urged me to continue such performances across the world as long as I can. Religious integration is more important now than ever before.”

Father Poovathingal noted that his troupe is formed by a multi-religious group of artists. “I am a catholic Christian. There are Muslim and Hindu artists in the orchestra.”

A voice ‘doctor’ too

He is also a vocologist and learnt vocology – the science and practice of voice habilitation, from the University of Columbia and the National Centre for Voice and Speech, Denver, the US. Currently, he runs the Chetana National Institute of Vocology in Thrissur district of Kerala – a one-of-a-kind institute in India for vocology, which aids musicians, public speakers, actors, artists, anchors, salespersons etc.

“I had treated our former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy when he faced an issue with his voice.”

He is also the director of the Chetana Music College, where individuals with autism and cerebral palsy are helped through neurologic music therapy. “Music is used as a tool for brain development. Neurologic music therapy has made positive improvements in children suffering from disabilities.”

In Kerala, he plans ‘Ganashram’ project, an eco-friendly campus focused on music, meditation, yoga, voice therapy and spirituality.

“The campus will be based on universal themes of peace, love, mercy, gratitude, forgiveness, patience and brotherhood. It will be a place for people to de-stress their body and mind. We will create an audio-visual music meditation theatre too.”

For more than two decades, he has been a disciple of India’s legendary singer Dr KJ Yesudas. “I am his student and continue to learn from him.”

Father Poovathingal is looking forward to performing in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, a country promoting peace and tolerance. He will be sharing his life experiences during the live concert at the ISC on Sunday (7.30 pm). Entry is free but a green pass of Al Hosn app is needed.

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