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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 7, july 16-31, 2009
Join in to celebrate
Madras Week
By A Special Correspondent

Madras Week, which started off as Madras Day six years ago to celebrate the founding of the city on August 22, 1639, now seems like becoming Madras Fortnight. This year, though Madras Week will be celebrated between the 16th and the 23rd of August, it looks like the celebrations will begin on 15th August itself and carry on till the 31st. For the small band of volunteers who initiated this concept, the response from the corporates and public of the city has given them enormous satisfaction.

A few people interested in the history of Madras that is Chennai have been responsible for encouraging the celebration of the founding of the city by schools, colleges, various organisations and groups of like-minded individuals. Participation is purely a voluntary ­effort by those wanting to organise programmes during the Week. The role of the informal group of co-coordinators is only to encourage such participation, try to organise publicity for the events and, where possible, arrange venues.

Growing from about 15 events in the first year, last year’s ­celebrations featured about 75 programmes, including talks, quizzes, exhibitions and performances, all centred on the theme ­‘Madras’. This year there will be many more.

Seeing last year’s response, the coordinators are making this early announcement so that other organisations/individuals/volunteer groups who wish to celebrate the founding of this city will have ample time to plan their events. Madras Musings can provide advisory help where needed. For any queries please contact or write to us at our usual address.

This year, the hotels of the city will, as usual, be enthusiastic participants. The Taj Coromandel, the Taj Connemara, the Raintree, The Park, the Welcomgroup Park Sheraton Hotel and Towers, and the Green Park will be hosting various talk shows. Talk shows in North Madras are also being planned. The coordinators of the Week are also hoping that they will host exhibitions and organise food festivals.

Schools with INTACH Heritage Clubs are already talking about a host of events and competitions centring on the city as their theme. INTACH’s Chennai Chapter is reaching out to other schools as well.

Several heritage walks are being organised this year. Chennai Heritage will also be conducting daily talk shows and heritage walks around the Marina area over one weekend of Madras Week. In addition, it is planning special thematic heritage walks focussing on ‘Swami Vivek­ananda in Madras’, ‘Some dubashes of Madras’, and ‘The Justice Party’. Nizhal has several tree walks planned. More details on the schedule and itineraries will be published in Madras Musings dated August 1 and 16, 2009. There will also be regular updates on the site

Mylapore Times, led by Vincent D’Souza, will be organising a wide range of events for Madras Week. These will include walks, quiz contests and talks. It also has already launched a Madras T-shirt design contest and a documentary film competition. Sashi Nair is the coordinator for West Madras. He is organising events at the Green Park Hotel and other venues such as the Jaigopal Garodia School in Anna Nagar.

Two of the most varied programmes that are being arranged during the Week are by the Alliance Francaise and the Madras Terrace House. Both have youth-oriented programmes throughout the week and beyond.

Other programmes are being organised by Eric Miller and his Storytellers’ Institute, the Madras Photographic Society, the Department of Archaeology, Government of Tamil Nadu, the College of Arts & Crafts, the Sri Parvati Art Gallery, the Association of British Scholars, the Indo-Amercian Association, the US Consulate-General, Asan Memorial School and Eves Touch together with Duchess Club. Some of the city’s leading clubs, several Rotary Clubs and the TAG Centre are organising programmes for invited audiences.

A group of dancers are coming together to choreograph and perform the People’s Park Vazhi Nadai Chindu, a synopsis of which first appeared in Madras Musings a couple of years ago. This will be staged on August 16th at the TAG Centre to an invited audience. It is likely it will be staged later for a public audience elsewhere. The Madras Book Club is releasing on the 19th a book titled The Madras School of Orientalism which is a collection of articles written on the 18th Century movement that saw the establishment of Tamil as a classical language many years later. The Roja Muthiah Research Library is organising an exhibition on the theme of ‘Gandhi in Madras’ during the Week and is planning a couple of lectures. Forum Art Gallery is organising an exhibition titled ‘Madras in Short’, a ‘miniature’ look at the city by its leading artists. And as these lines are written, more events are being discussed and finalised. Won’t you join in and celebrate our city?

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