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Life Shared

A tribute to Sr. Esther Rani f.m.m.

                                                                            

A Tribute to Sr. Esther Rani FMM

“There are numerous strings in your lute, Let me add my own among them.”

These words of Tagore constantly vibrated in the heart of Sr. Esther whose life and mission centered on Carnatic devotional Music.  In her own words: “I enter into communion with Jesus, my Ishatadevata (cherished divinity) through music. I experience joy, devotion, love forgiveness, gratitude and enthusiasm”. For Esther music was a sadhana (a way to God).                                               

As a young religious, Sr. Esther was trained in Raja’s Music College, Thiruvayyar, Thanjavur, obtaining the title Sangeetha Siromani. Her studies in Tamil Nadu Music College, Greenways Road, Chennai, qualified her as Sangeetha Vidwan. After intensive training under the renowned Music Master, late Thirupampuram Shanmugha Sundharam, Sr. Esther along with her companion Sr. Rita Susai FMM performed their ‘ arangetram’ (the debut on-stage performance) in 1979 at Rosary Matriculation School, Chennai. Later the Bharati Mandram of Stella Maris college, bestowed on her the title ‘Isai Jnana Arasi’ (queen of music).

In her music ministry she received much support and encouragement from the FMM Congregation especially the Provincials – Mother Klemens, Sr. Angela Hurley and Sr. Mary Lily Bernard. Her stay in Aikya Alayam Chennai and Anjali Ashram Mysore enabled her to interiorize music adding spiritual depth and devotion to her singing. She also rendered valuable services in these ashrams and  NBCLC, (National, Biblical Catechetical and Liturgical Centre), Bangalore by singing bhajans and kirtans (Devotional songs).

                                                                       

                        Sr. Esther was a member of Ishlaya ashram community for sixteen years. She used to say that the quiet atmosphere of the ashram helped her to contemplate the God of sound and silence. Her heart longed to be in the ashram. But due to ill health and other factors, her wish could not be fulfilled. She was a loving sister cherished and treasured by her family and friends. On17th June 2013 at the age of sixty-six she went to her eternal reward after a period of illness of cirrhosis of liver. Fr. Michael Amaladoss S.J.  concluded the funeral oration on 18th June by saying that the vibrations of her music will live on in the atmosphere reaching out to all of us in the years to come.

On Saturday and Sunday, the 13th and 14th of July, here in Ishalaya we organized a Memorial Service cum Music programme in honour of Sr. Esther Rani. Her family members- brother, sister and niece were present on both the days. We had a number of visiting sisters also present for the programme. Sr. Stella Balthazar FMM from Ooty province had come for the occasion and helped us with planning and conducting the proceedings. The Hall was tastefully decorated with flowers and lights; all the India Musical instruments and a large number of Esther’s photos related to various occasions were displayed.

On Saturday the programme was for the Inter-faith group. It was attended by many of our Hindu friends from the neighbourhood. They contributed by singing slokas and bhajans. On Sunday it was mainly a Catholic group from the Parish and a few from our neighbourhood. On both the days there was continuous singing for two hours by various groups. The finale on both the days consisted of songs, reflections and music, praying for the oneness of Sr. Esther’s soul with the Universal Energy. This ended with the rhythmic sounding together of all the musical instruments such as tabla, harmonium, thambura, veena and other  instruments for ten minutes. On Sunday, after the programme there was Celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the repose of her soul in the heavenly abode of melodious and unending praise of God.

Sr. Mary John Kattikatt FMM