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Madurai is synonymous with the Meenakshi Temple.

It is here that Kunjamma -- who later achieved worldwide fame as M S Subbulakshmi -- was born on September 16, 1916, in the month of Purattasi under the star Bharani.

It is said that those born under Bharani rule the world; that girl certainly did.

Her mother Shanmukhavadivu was an accomplished veena player. But she found it difficult to pursue her passion and at the same time manage a house with three children and an extended family.

MS' father Subramanya Iyer was a lawyer. He lived in the adjacent street with his first wife and family.

Photographs: India Abroad Archives

Text: Shobha Warrier

Also see: M S, the songbird in springtime

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