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Odhuvar – People Who Chant Thevaram and other Verses in Shaivite Temples

Odhuvar are men who sing ‘Thevaram’ and other Tamil devotional hymns and songs in Shiva, Ganesha and Muruga temples in South India. They sing the sacred hymns during the main puja period. The word odhuvar comes from the word odhu or othu, meaning to chant. The verses they chant are usually from the Tirumurai, which is a collection of twelve books with hymns praising the glory of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesh and Muruga. It was compiled by Saint Nambiandar.

Earlier only men used to perform the role of Odhuvar but now women are also taking up the place of Odhuvar in temples.

There is also a three-year Thevaram course at the Government Music School which prepares students interested taking up the position of Odhuvar in temples.