Periya melam: literally, "big band." The periya melam is a traditional Carnatic music ensemble consisting of the nagaswaram, the tavil, the talam, and some form of harmonizing drone, either traditionally an ottu or more recently a shruti petti (bellows reed organ). It is not uncommon for there to be two or more of each instrument, except the nagaswaram, which is the lead instrument in this ensemble.

The nagaswaram is a double reed woodwind instrument vaguely similar to the saxophone in sound; the tavil is a double-headed barrel drum with a brittle, penetrating sound; and the talam is a pair of hand cymbals used to keep basic rhythm. A periya melam will be found performing in almost every temple in South India and at every wedding, funeral, street procession, or other religious service. As the sound and presence of a periya melam is considered very auspicious, one will also often be found at such occasions as the opening of stores, buildings, fairs, etc., as part of the blessing ceremony.

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