25 Sep

Issue 178 - Madras Week

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Issue 178 - Madras Week

Madras Week


Chennai is a vibrant metropolis that is modern in technology and scientific, industrial, movies, medical and educational spheres. Yet, Madras as it used to be known as is deeply rooted in the past and celebrates traditions, history and its cultural heritage.


Chennai celebrates its birthday on August 22 and we don?t have a holiday for it. The idea of celebrating this city?s birthday Madras Day was spearheaded by a small group of people in 2004 based on the success of another event called Mylapore Festival which D'Souza and his Mylapore Times had been organising every year in January. The group began with three prominent media people?the famous historian, S. Muthiah, journalist Sashi Nair and publisher Vincent D? Souza. Later Sushila Ravindranath?senior journalist and editor, Revathi R?journalist and web site entrepreneur and V. Sriram?entrepreneur, musicologist and writer-historian joined together and launched a unique celebration


Though there are controversies about the exact date, the founding day of Madras is considered to be August 22, 1639. On that day and year, a small piece of land was bought for the East India Company by Francis Day, his ?dubash? Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan with the last King of Chandragiri, a local Nayak ruler. That is the spot where Fort. St. George stands today. Out of the fort, grew settlements and gradually the villages around the area were joined together. What was called the old and new towns were amalgamated and the city of Chennaipattnam or Madraspattinam grew and grew... and now it seems that the city will burst at the seams!


The celebrations initially were a recalling of old history, books and traditional practices. Gradually, music, art, drama, cinema, dance, food, personalities are all taking centre stage in the celebrations. What was originally restricted to elite forums is today a joyous week of multifarious celebrations including events organised by citizens and corporates, students and campuses, communities and companies and hotels and local organizations?each trying to capture vignettes of Chennai?s vibrant soul. The celebrations now are spread through a week of events in every part of the city. Every year something new is being added like heritage walks, school exchange programs, talks, debates, quizzes and contests, poetry and music performances, food fests and rallies, photo exhibitions, runs and bike tours and Chennaivaasis are trying to introduce innovation into these celebrations. Special programs on local radio add an excitement to the celebrations. Even contests like T-shirt designing, making documentary films, multimedia presentations mark the event.


So enjoy the celebrations of your city in different ways and help it to grow, to be clean and to be a vibrant city!