A 17th century version of the epic is named after the Takkai
Coimbatore (Kovai) is a favourite place since it is close to Anaikatti, where we used to visit Sri Dayananda Saraswati at his serene ashram.
Once during a visit to Kongu Nadu, we heard the Takkai Pattu, where stories from the Puranas were sung to the rhythm of the takkai.
The Takkai Ramayanam composed by Emperuman Kaviraayar around 1600 AD was so named because the Ramayana was rendered to the accompaniment of the instrument. In fact the verses are set to the pace of takkai.
Emperuman Kaviraayar composed 3250 songs divided into 6 Kandas. This work is classified under the folk songs that is sung to the rhythm of takkai, which is performed at night in the villages. There was also a custom of reciting the Takkai Ramayanam in the Kalakshepa style. From ancient times, the takkai has been performed at all auspicious functions in Kongu Nadu. It was popular in the region till the end of the 17th century.
Takkai, also referred to as Tala Isai Karuvi, is an Avanaddha vadya, a membranophone with two faces that comes under the family of Udukkai. It is a bit larger than Udukkai but smaller than Davandai.
Another difference is that the Udukkai is played with the right hand, whereas the takkai is played with a bamboo stick. There are 7 to 11 holes and there are leather straps or rope that is used to join the two faces that are covered with leather. This instrument is about 1 foot long. The pitch of the instrument may be altered by squeezing the rope, which is tied in the narrow middle of the instrument that is held by the left hand of the performer. Takkai could be made of wood or bronze.
It is played at the Srirangam temple during Pagal Pathu (day time for 10 days) and Ra Pathu (night for 10 days), which are celebrated in Margazhi.
Ranjitkumar, temple musician, at Srirangam says, “During Pagal Pathu when the Lord goes to Arjuna Mandapam, different nadais are played on the takkai according to the movement of the procession. Similarly, during Ra Pathu, when the procession moves to the Ayiram Kal Mandam.”
In Srirangam, the takkai has a special position in Araiyar Sevai during two festivals.
Dr. Rama Kausalya, says, “During the Kausika Ekadesi the Arayars perform Tirunedunthandagam to the accompaniment of this instrument and again, during Vaikunta Ekadesi, when the Arayars recite Divya Prabhandam... It is a tradition to play a suddha maddalam, davalai and takkai alternately during the recitation of Prabhandams.”
It is learnt that in the old texts there is a mention of takkai as being one of the accompanying instruments of Villupattu. In Ilango Adigal’s Silapadikaram, there is a reference to the takkai under the category of Agappuramuzhavualong with Tannumai and Tagunicham.
Tirumurai too mentions the instrument as does Appar in his Tiruthandagam, Karaikal Ammaiyar in Tiruvalangadu Mootha Tirupadigam (included in the 11th Tirumani) and Arunagirinathar in the Tirupughazh.
It is also mentioned in Kanda Puranam, Tiruvilayadal Puranam and Kamba Ramayanam.