Aanai: 1776 to 1850
Aiyaa: 1778 to 1857
Aanaiyaa hailed from Vaiyacheri, a small village in Tanjore district in TamilNadu. The village temple hosts the shrine of "Mangalaambigai" and "Agasteeswarar". Although, the name Aanaiyaa can seem to refer to an individual, in reality it refers to two; Aanai and Aiyaa. Also, many have thought of Aanai and Aiyaa to be brothers by birth. This is not the case.
Pranadhathiharar, a resident of Vaiyacheri was a great scholar and an authority in the four Vedas. Pranadhathiharar was married to Dharmambal. His younger sister Madurambal was married to Viswanaatha Iyer, who also was a native of Vaiyacheri. In 1776, the Pranadhathiharar Dharmabal couple were blessed with a boy child who was named Aanai. In 1778, Viswanatha Iyer and Madhurambal were blessed with a boy who was named Aiyaa. Thus, Aanai was Aiyaa's maternal uncle's son and Aiyaa was Aanai's paternal aunt's son, which made them cousin brothers.
With under 2 years separating them and being next door to each other, Anaiyaa grew up together and were inseparable "like" brothers. It was very uncommon to see one without the other. Aanai, the elder of the two grew up to be a natural and gifted musician. Aiyaa, though not born a musical genius, was still very proficient in the art form. From a very young age, Aiyaa showed a lot of interest in literature and poetry and grew up to be a scholar with remarkable command over Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit languages.
Their daily routines included 3 to 4 hours of Rudhram recital followed by an in-depth Veda learning session with Pranadhathiharar. Later in the afternoon, the two were often seen sitting in the "thinnai" discussing various aspects of carnatic music. Aiyaa was especially fond of reading and gathering information pertaining to theory of music from early literary works on carnatic music. Aanai was a brilliant singer with a gifted voice and an ability to compose songs at will. Even at a fairly young age the Aaniyaa duo started composing. Aiyaa meticulously set these compositions to appropriate tunes.
Every evening around 5:00 PM, Aanaiyaa would go to the "Agasteeswarar - Mangalaambigai" temple to offer evening prayers. It was customary for the duo to sing in front of both the shrines of the temple. On days of auspicious significance, the singing session would last for a few hours. Such occasions would witness the gathering of people who came from Vaiyacheri, the nearby villages of Thirunageswaram, Upiliappan Kovil, Thittai, Aiyampettai, Pasupathi Kovil and sometimes even from the town of Tanjore.
When singing together, Aaniyaa's voices would blend in seamlessly and result in a Divine resonance that would spell bind the audience. Their vocal signatures were so close to each other that it was impossible to tell which one of the two was singing; unless one was directly looking at them or grasping their body movements. Their command over language, their ability to weave the verses into a well thought out tune and their improvisation skills awed even the brightest of the musical minds.