What began eight years ago as a four-hour-long celebration of the city has today transformed into an elaborate fortnight-long celebration. Madras Week, which is growing bigger each year, will begin on August 19 and go on up to August 26.

This year, the celebration is not just reaching out to a new demographic, but also actively trying to involve young entrepreneurs. The ‘catalysts of the festival’ as they refer to themselves, said that Madras Day was not just about senior people discussing history. The focus was on drawing a younger crowd to both participate and conduct programmes during the course of the festival. “What started as Madras Day would soon become Madras Month,” said Historian S. Muthiah.

Journalist Vincent D' Souza pointed out how, for instance, they were organising a ‘Madras by night’ tour which will be conducted by two young entrepreneurs who run a travel-related web portal. “We are looking at food, photography, and a host of other things. On August 22, we are asking everyone to take one photo of the city each. Ten years down the line, it will be a photographic record of what happened in the city in a single day,” he said.

Involving children

An integral part of the celebration was involving young children, and INTACH has been working with many schools through its Heritage Education and Communication Service, said member Padma Swaminathan. “We are exploring options such as waiving the fee and looking for sponsors,” she added

This is the first time the British Council and the Consul Generals of United Kingdom and Australia would be actively involved, said Mr. Muthiah.

When asked about the fewer number of programmes focussing on North Chennai despite its rich heritage, they said that the earlier programmes in the neighbourhood did not find patrons. Since programmes were organised on a voluntary basis, anyone who wanted to conduct a walk or a lecture would be welcomed. “The challenge is to mobilise people,” said Mr. Muthiah.

This year’s programmes include the bicycle heritage ride, ‘Tracing the old Town Wall of Madras’, ‘Namma Mylapore’ and trekking on the Pallavaram Hills; talks by residents of Chennai’s oldest lodges, quizzes and competitions for school children, photographic presentations by environmentalists, among many other programmes.

For details about venue and registration, visit www.themadrasday.in.

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