It was a hot Sunday afternoon when the silence of Triplicane was disturbed by people bustling around. Children and women in nine yards and silk saris were seen proceeding towards Bharathiyar Illam.
Young boys in their dhoti and angavastram tied around their waist were getting ready to recite Vedam and Thiruppavai. Women of the Soundarya Ratnamala Kuzhu (SRK), all dressed in green and red sari, were ready with their sruti box and mike to sing bhajans and enthuse the children to participate in the event along with them. Nadaswaram players were also seen rehearsing a few songs. The much awaited ‘Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha' began.
Just past 3.15 p.m., the procession, carrying the banner of ‘Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha' began its journey around the mada streets. There was so much of activity that the residents could hardly stay indoors. One could see faces peeping out of every window, door and balcony.
The procession was led by a cow and calf whose foreheads were adorned with kumkum and vermillion. It was followed by the nadaswaram isai. Boys reciting Vedam, children dancing and singing along with the elders were followed by a special gang. Thappattam (group of five) and kokkalikattai (four men on high stilts) were part of the gang.
Wearing colourful long pants and tops, the stilt artists from Utharamerur kept pace with the lilting music of the thappatam troupe all the while balancing themselves beautifully on tall wooden stilts.
Members of SRK rendered bhajans and songs such as “Theeradha Vilayatu Pillai” and flag song to which the children mimed and danced.
The united effort was evident and presented a wonderful sight. In an hour's time, the procession reached the temple. Meanwhile, about 50 ladies turned South Mada Street lively with their vibrant kolams. Holding rangoli powder in folded papers, they were seen turning their designs effervescent with colours.
These community activities were aimed at bringing back the flavour of Triplicane by organisers Uthra, Shobana and Vittal Narayanan.
Rooted in tradition, Triplicane is also known for its fine artistic taste in music, dance and arts. Stalwarts from myriad fields hail from this area. The organisers held a function to recognise a few who had carved a niche for themselves.
Vikkoo Vinayakaram, Mylapore MLA S.Ve.Sekhar, DGP-Fire and Rescue Services R. Nataraj, DC-HR & CE Jayaraman, Tamil professor Vaidyanathan and NKT Muthu were some of the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Mr. Jayaraman, in his welcome address said, “Personalities such as Ramanujam, Tamil Thatha, Ma Po Si, Sathyamurthy and Netaji Subash Chandra Bose were residents of Triplicane. Today, we are honouring some of the living legends such as Vikkoo Vinayakaram, S.Ve.Sekhar and R. Nataraj.
Mr. Nataraj pointed out that in the history of Chennai, being a temple town, Triplicane was always given importance. Presence of Kapaleeswarar temple and Parthasarathy Swamy Temple give immense moral support to Chennites. He also informed the audience that he was a student of Hindu High School and was familiar with the area. “In those days people had a lot of involvement in whatever the did and this was the reason why many of them rose to great heights.”
S. Ve. Shekar also identified himself with Aalankathapillai Street. He said, “Nowhere in the city is Bharathiar honoured with a jathipallakku. Similarly, the mada streets of Triplicane still sport the old looks. Triplicane is a forerunner in preserving our tradition and we have to be proud of it.”
“I am proud to say that I was born and brought up in this area. I was a resident of Pilliar Koil Street and I was initially known as Thiruvateeswaran Pillai Vinayagam. I have accompanied many a great artists in various concerts but I am proud to have played for various festivals of the temple,” said Vikkoo Vinayakaram.
Ranganayaki Jayaraman, Director, Saraswathi Gana Nilayam, thanked the organisers for honouring her.
“We have always been referred to as the precious jewel of Triplicane by great personalities. Many of my students have established as teachers across the globe.” She also said that a sense of pride surged through her as she was being honoured along with stalwarts from diverse areas and expressed her heartfelt gratitude towards Mr. Vaidyanathan who had penned scripts for various dance dramas — Deiveeha Vahanangal; Kanda Puranam — of their dance school.
Mr. Vaidyanathan (93), who had been a resident of the area since 1940, said that script written by him for the ‘Andal' dance drama was still staged every year by NKT Girls HSS. He expressed his thanks to the late N.K. Tirumalachariar who had helped him to establish himself in the area.
Dr. M.A. Venkatakrishnan, Professor, Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, who was also honoured during the event, pointed out that the Thiruvizha was dominated by women. He elaborated on the writings of Alwars, about the temple. He said that Thirumangai Alwar had pointed out even during the early period, that Triplicane was dominated by women. "He had sung that it they were the ones who had brought laurels to the area.”
Sampath Kumar, secretary-SYMA, who was honoured, spoke about the various activities of SYMA and how they were useful to the local residents. The function was followed by a cultural programme which was well received and lauded by the residents of Triplicane.