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SHOWCASING SKILLS: College culturals go a long way in shaping the personality of students and preparing them to face the competition.
SHOWCASING SKILLS: College culturals go a long way in shaping the personality of students and preparing them to face the competition.

City Bureau

With the events serving as a platform to promote their brands, many corporates are sponsoring them

CHENNAI: College culturals define college life in many ways. It is the time when talents are showcased, lasting memories are etched and lessons on co-ordination and teamwork learnt.

A few years ago, January and February were the time when all colleges got decked up and sizzled with high-wattage dance and music performances. All that has changed now with the celebrations spread across the year.

Every department of the institution strives to make its events bigger and better by inviting colleges across the State and sometimes, from other parts of the country. From a day-long unpretentious affair to four days of non-stop fun, culturals have evolved over the years and become a status symbol for the colleges. The bigger the event, the larger the spend. For the organisers, raising funds, however, is not an issue. With the events serving as a good platform to promote their brands among the youth, many corporates have started sponsoring the events.

Fondly called the ‘Mother of all culturals,’ Saarang hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras sticks to its promise – a week of unlimited fun and display of extraordinary talents – year after year. Preparations begin even before the start of academic year and the secretaries who would lead a team of thousand volunteers are elected.

“Saarang, in its nascent stage, attracted only the city colleges. Now it is a global sensation. We never had problems with sponsors and every year it amounts to Rs.50 lakh. The money is used to make the event bigger and exceed the expectations of people,” says IIT-M cultural secretary Aravind Krishnan.

Saarang is not just about music and dance. A string of workshops, lectures and demonstrations are organised to make it a learning experience too, he adds.

In most colleges, the cultural fest is all about division of labour. The student unions pick up secretaries of various departments such as hospitality, finance, public relations and event management. “We select the secretaries based on what they are best at. The secretaries will then choose volunteers,” says Pradeep Rajadas, Student Union president of Loyola College.

A few other colleges, on their part, host extravagant culturals by collecting nominal fee for the competitions. V. Kadambari, a former students’ union advisory of Ethiraj College, says that such events are necessary to showcase the talents of the students. While only one per cent of the participants make it to the finals of the competitions, such fests certainly help all of them evolve as better personalities. “The competitions prepare them to face crisis and make them more tolerant. Performances of the fresh talents help the rest of the students develop a sense of appreciation.”

Teachers say the spirit of participation has increased over the years and off-beat events are a hit among students. V.V. Subramanian, former principal of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, says the college culturals served as a launch pad for many playback singers and carnatic vocalists. “When students from different colleges and cities meet, it broadens their perspective. Spending lavishly for such events cannot be avoided as students work hard to organise it well. It also teaches them how manage their finances.”

For students, it is a much-awaited break from the routine. A. Niranjan of DMI Engineering College says the emphasis is on making the programmes more innovative every year. “We make sure even the invites are aesthetically done up to attract more participants. It is the best time to learn to work as a team.” A lot of planning goes into such events, from the time the volunteers are chosen to assigning them work and ensuring that all of them work in tandem.

Towards ensuring that the classes are not affected, colleges such as Anna Adarsh College for Women draw up the schedules well in ahead of the semester examinations after consulting the students.

However, a section of parents have their apprehensions. “It is the time when colleges give them unbridled freedom and students manage to get away with excuses,” says Kripa Rajendran, mother of a medical student. “While it is necessary to allow the youngsters to participate in such events, it is also necessary to monitor them and make sure they don’t misuse the autonomy.”

(With inputs from S.Aishwarya, K.Lakshmi and T.Madhavan)

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