First woman to play nadaswaram dead

Madurai: M S Ponnuthai, the first woman artiste to play nadaswaram, a south Indian musical instrument, has died. She was 83 and died on Tuesday night at her residence here due to stomach ulcer and kidney failure, family members said.

Ponnuthai, who performed her first concert when she was 13, learnt nadaswaram at the age nine from renowned exponent Natesa Pillai.

She had performed concerts with famous vidwans incuding T N Rajarathinam Pillar and Thiruvegattar and Tiruuveezhimizhaiyar. Ponnuthai played for All India Radio from 1946 to 1989.

Ponnuthai won numerous awards, including the Kalaimamani award given by the State. She used to teach youngsters the nuances of nadaswaram even during old age, her family members said.

She was born in Puduayakudi near Palani on Jul 5, 1929. She is survived by two daughters and a son.