Music world’s Yesudas is Kochi’s Dasappan

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To the world, he is Yesudas, to Fort Kochi residents, he is forever their Dasappan. Friends and classmates recall how the celestial singer, who celebrated his 84th birthday on Wednesday, spent his early days in his native place. Born in Fort Kochi on January 10, 1940, as the son of Kattassery Augustine Joseph, who was a musician and stage actor, and Elizabeth Joseph, Yesudas completed his schooling at St John De Britto Anglo-Indian High School and St Sebastian’s High School in Thoppumpady from where he completed his SSLC.

Though the singer faced a lot of financial struggles growing up, his father ensured he was given good training in music. After providing him with some basics, his father enrolled Yesudas for training under the likes of Kunhan Velu Asan, PX Joseph, Ramankutty Menon Bhagavathar, Sivaraman Nair Bhagavathar, among others.

K J Yesudas’s neighbour T G Alex recalled how the young boy would accompany his father duing the devotional music concerts held at St. Joseph’s Chapel at Adhikarivalappu in Fort Kochi. The music legend began singing devotional songs at the tender age of 12 and embraced it as a calling after the death of his father. Every year on March 31, the singer would arrive at the Chapel at Adhikarivalappu for the concert. This tradition continued for 67 years but was brought to a grinding halt owing to the Covid pandemic.

Yesudas is a devoted follower of St Joseph. Before the concert began on the night of March 31 every year, he would place a garland on St Joseph’s figurine after personally purchasing flowers from a shop at Cheralayi in Mattanchery. He bought the garland from the same shop for many years.

Despite the hurdles, Yesudas never forgot the practice of placing the flowers on the figurine. While performing the concert in the US on that same day in 2022, he called Thoppumpadi native PX Francis and requested him to place the garland on the idol at the chapel on his behalf. Yesudas started his concert in the US only after confirming that the idol was adorned with the garland.

Even though Yesudas left his native place in the later stages of his career, his ancestral house, which has now been converted into a hostel, has been named ‘House of Yesudas.’ There is a huge photograph of Yesudas in the lobby of the hotel. In the next room, there is a sizable mango tree that has grown above the roof of the vintage house. This Malgova mango tree was planted by his mother. Every season, the owner of the hotel, Nazer, would reserve a basket of mangoes for Yesudas. Overwhelmed by the gesture, Yesudas once hugged Nazer and said: My mother planted this mango tree with the seed of one of the mangoes we sent from Chennai. I am so grateful that you did not fell it. The love you showed to this tree is the love and affection towards my mother,” he said.

Nazer bought the house from PA Thajudheen in 2000 and converted it to a hotel. Even in his absence, his friends celebrate Yesudas’s birthdays and cut cakes at the place, every year.

While Yesudas conquered new heights as a musician, he also made sure that he gave back to society. His decision to join hands with ‘Sruthitharangam’, a state government scheme providing free cochlear implants to children with hearing impairment, exemplifies his social commitment. In 2011, he proposed the idea of cochlear implants to the state government led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, which was approved and implemented at a quick pace.

Music world’s Yesudas is Kochi’s Dasappan

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