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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 10, september 1-15, 2009
Thank you, Chennai
By the Editor

Enthusiastic celebration of Madras Week

Madras Week 2009 has just come to a close. What started as a one-day festival five years ago now spans a fortnight and even as these lines are being written, Madras Day is still being celebrated in some parts of the city. The core eight-day festival to celebrate the city was marked by an upsurge in public participation and made the anniversary a truly memorable one. Here’s a quick look at what made this Madras Week different from previous ones:

The sheer number of events simultaneously happening at various parts of the city was truly staggering. There were at least one hundred and fifty public events apart from several private celebrations and, unlike in earlier years, they were spread out, from IT companies in Taramani and beyond, to Avadi in the west.

Deepa’s Kilpauk Walk that started from the Votive Shrine on Hall’s Road. (Courtesy: Mylapore Times.)

There were several exhibitions going on during the Week and these varied from those that looked at the past to those that reflected the present and pondered over the future. It was heart-warming to see the way hotels, despite a bad year in terms of business, came forward to celebrate the week. They housed talks, competitions, exhibitions and organised food festivals. A rare collection of lithographs that included unusual views of Madras in the 17th and 18th centuries was on display at the C.P. Arts Centre and the sheer number of the visitors who thronged to see it was heartening. So was the exhibition centring on the theme of Gandhi and Tamil Nadu which was on at the Roja Muthiah Research Library.

Two kinds of events that really increased in number this year were the Talks and Walks. While Madras Musings and Chennai Heritage hosted eight in the southern part of the city, other talks hosted in the southern and western parts were sponsored by way of space and hospitality by schools, libraries, hotels and boutiques and the way these establishments came forward voluntarily was truly heart-warming.

There were walks galore featuring heritage, trees, photographs, story-telling and statues. Localities such as Kilpauk had walks dedicated to the heritage of their neighbour­hood. What was amazing was that all walks were booked in full and there was demand for more.

INTACH led by Dr. S. Suresh and Dr. Prema Kasturi perhaps made the single largest contribution to the celebrations by roping in schools and colleges in large numbers, thereby bringing in the next generation into the event. In this perhaps lies the seed for the continuity of Madras Week celebrations, year after year.

At least five books were released during the week. One was the Tamil translation of Madras Rediscovered, the book that has perhaps done the most to rekindle interest in our city. The Madras School of Orientalism, a compilation of articles on the subject edited by Thomas Trautmann, was released during the week. Yet another book was In Search of P. James, an expatriate’s view of the city. A fourth was the author Vasantha Surya’s Tamil work Madrasil Mridu. And there was Nanditha Krishna’s Madras-Chennai, its history and environment. There were, besides, story-telling sessions for children and adults, puppet shows, poetry sessions, radio programmes, folk music programmes, all day programmes on the music of today, food festivals, bike tours, film shows and quiz contests.

All this made for a fun-filled and vibrant week, a birthday celebration that everyone in the city will be proud of. It showed a city that, contrary to the picture of apathy that is usually painted, was full of life and the will to celebrate itself. The media, both print and electronic, literally went to town. If one paper carried details of all programmes each day, another covered the events and published detailed reports. All newspapers focussed attention on heritage, civic issues and life in Chennai. Even national television channels sat up and took notice.

There were a few complaints that Madras Week had too many events and that the audience had to spread itself thin. This correspondent thinks otherwise: When the Music Season began sprouting many sabha-s, the same debate ensued with one group asserting that the city did not have the wherewithal to support so many sabha-s. That the Music Season has survived and, what’s more, become a success is there for all to see. Maybe, it will be so with Madras Week too.

In this issue

Thank you, Chennai
Foundation stones...
19th & 20th Century...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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