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S.Jayakumar

Born in Sirkazhi, Tamil Nadu, Jayakumar is a performing classical musician, researcher, cultural tourism and social entrepreneur. With a keen interest in researching the fields of classical music and dance, South Indian cultural history, Jayakumar has been a faculty member and a resource person for various institutions and organisations over the decade. His academic motivation also manifests in the many talks and lecture demonstrations he has presented at different venues.

With unwavering faith that a better understanding of the past is what will increase our chances of creating a better future, Jayakumar founded “Courtyard Tours”, a travel company that is centred around Culture, and “Prastara”, an NGO that works towards the conservation and preservation of Indian heritage; while simultaneously working with various artistes, organisations, and creative minds as a resource person.

Ponniyin Selvan - BTS Videos

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#EDUCATION #EDUCATOR #CONSULTANT

Education & Experience

EDUCATION
EDUCATOR
CONSULTANT

Jayakumar’s tryst with the Arts began in 2001 when he started studying Carnatic Music at Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai. Wanting to delve deeper into understanding Sound, he pursued a diploma in Sound Engineering from SAE Institute Australia.

A deep love for Tamil and History, in addition to the many interactions with different artists, scholars and researchers, led Jayakumar to also complete a master’s in History and Heritage Management from Annamalai University, and a Masters in Tamil Language and Literature. An interest in Saiva Siddhantam, pushed him to get a diploma in the same. He has had the privilege of training in Epigraphy under the tutelage of Padma Bhushan Dr. R.Nagaswamy and Prof S.Ramachandran of the State Archaeological Department, Tamil Nadu. Aided by these skills and academic qualifications, Jayakumar has been implementing his thorough understanding of cultural heritage in making a difference in the preservation and documentation of our history.

Jayakumar began his foray into teaching with handling Carnatic music lessons, both practical and theory, for the second- and third-year students at Kalakshetra. From then on, he branched into private tutoring over the years. His love for pedagogy only grew deeper when he began lecturing on the subject of ‘Art and Architecture of South India’ at Kalakshetra. He has also been instrumental as an academic project guide for many students of music and dance at UG and PG levels.

Over the last decade, he has been exploring teaching with giving lectures and conducting lecture-demonstrations on various subjects pertaining to South Indian History, Arts & Culture Temple Architecture, Iconography, Saivite and Vaishnavite Literature, Performing Arts, and other related streams.Some of the institutions that Jayakumar has worked with include Kumaraguru College of Technology, Sāraswatham Foundation, Bhakti Natya Niketan, KC High International School, AIM for Seva at Manjakudi, and the Vidya Vanam School for tribal and underprivileged children, to name a few.

Beyond the work that Jayakumar has put into creating a space for narratives of history and heritage, he has also, over the years, been associated with many eminent dancers, musicians, scholars, and filmmakers and has carved a niche for himself as a resource person and an authority on varied subjects in the field of Art and Culture.

Some of his notable contributions include ‘Thyagaraja’, a musical drama by Bombay Jayashri, where he was associated as the music coordinator; ‘Ponniyin Selvan’, the upcoming Mangum Opus by Mani Ratnam for which he spearheads the research, etc. Jayakumar’s command over Tamil and Sanskrit and an added fluency Telugu and English has been a major contributor in a variety of projects.

#CAREER #ENTREPRENEUR #SOCIALWORK

Journey & Initiatives

JOURNEY
Courtyard tours
Prastara
House of Tuhil
  • House of Tuhil (2022 – present) – Cofounder
  • Courtyard Tours Pvt. Ltd (2017 – present) – Founder and Director
  • Independent Consultant (2014 – present) – For arts, culture, heritage, and history related projects with individuals and organisations.
    • Some projects include: Ponniyin Selvan by Mani Ratnam, Memorial for Industrialist Sri. Pollachi N Mahalingam, etc.
  • Prastara Charitable Trust (2010 – present) – Founder Trustee
  • Kumarguru College of Technology (2014 – 2016) – Fine Arts Consultant & Coordinator | Course Coordinator ‘Traditional Architecture’ for the Department of Civil Engineering
  • Established the Fine Arts Education Wing, bringing together music and other fine arts. Worked with multiple student bodies to initiate and conduct activities revolving around Literature, Art, History, Photography, Film etc.
    • Two key roles: Program Coordinator for the ten-day exhibition on the Brihadeeswarar Temple organized by INTACH, Coimbatore Chapter and conducted by IGNCA in 2014; and Secretary for National level conference on ‘Tribal Art’ organized by the Indian Art History Congress, Coimbatore in 2015.
  • Kalakshetra Foundation (2006 – 2014) – Research & Documentation (Audio Visual Archives) | Vocal Music Teacher | Research Coordinator
    • With regards to documentation, Jayakumar was initiated to document, preserve, and disseminate culturally important materials to students, scholars, and the general public through a centralized repository in keeping with global standards.
    • Major projects include M.D.Ramanathan Retrospective Project, Ramayana – The Six Part Dance Dramas of Kalakshetra Foundation, Kalakshetra Dance Repertoire, Kannappar Kuravanji, Kalakshetra 75th Year Festivity, etc.
  • The Madras Music Academy (2008 – 2009) – Live Sound Engineer

It is no surprise that culture is intricately woven into the everyday lives and tasks of a community. In his journey of curating experiences and enabling travellers to explore South Indian heritage, Jayakumar was keen to fill in this empty space between historicity, the disconnected stories and ‘seeing’ culture. To provide a true feeling of travelling through time, he realised that different motifs of art, architecture, food, people, and history, that hitherto had existed as independent narratives, had to be brought together to create a wholesome experience.

Thus, after independently curating and conducting trails for a decade, Jayakumar sought to put South India on the global map and challenge the existing status quo of ‘boring’ that history always carried a label of. For this, he created immersive cultural experiences.

These adaptive, specialised trails that Jayakumar led for people from diverse backgrounds such as architects, designers, photographers, industrialists, students, and so on, culminated in 2017 with the start of the ‘Courtyard Tours’, a unique one-glove-does-not-fit-all approach to cultural travel tourism.

The Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan mentions a host of places of historical importance that exist to this day. A love for exploring these spaces as is depicted in the book brought together a group of heritage enthusiasts to travel to such sights and create awareness. This initiative is what has blossomed into Prastara, a non-profit organisation started in 2010 by Jayakumar and a group of heritage enthusiasts.

Prastara’s continued mission is to raise awareness about the rich heritage of our country. Focussing on educating youngsters in history and heritage-related fields, Prastara has been involved majorly in conducting outreach programmes for school students and college goers in South India as well, facilitating field trips and lectures on heritage.

The organisation has also been pivotal in identifying, documenting, preserving, and sharing cultural knowledge with different sections of the public in its quest to instill a sense of ownership in people about their heritage. This has resulted in undertaking various projects, documenting and archiving tangible and intangible heritages, and organising events for the general public such as talks of experts in different fields.

Tuhil, a Tamil word from the Sangam era, means fabric. It became the natural choice of label for S. Jayakumar and his partner Varsha Kumar’s dream venture.Tuhil joins this renaissance of the handloom. Their focus is to revive,preserve, and recreate traditional handlooms specific to South India. Emphasis on colours, designs, textures and weaving techniques makes them distinctive. These weaves which include sarees, veshti, fabrics, etc., are handwoven in looms established for Tuhil. House of Tuhil celebrates South Indian artistry. It is an ode to the nuanced sensibilities of a forgotten era. Jayakumar’s profound love for culture seamlessly extended to a connection with textiles and handloom, ultimately inspiring the creation of “Tuhil”- a harmonious blend of heritage and craftsmanship. He dons the cap of researcher, amongst others at Tuhil.

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