Celebrating Margazhi with paints, pumpkin flowers and food

The days are shorter, the mornings cooler, and the rains are back. As the month of Margazhi approaches, the city is collectively gearing up for 30 days of bhakti, music, dance and renderings of poet-saint Andal’s Tiruppavai. While the sabhas ready for the December Music Festival, in Adyar, Forum Art Gallery is finalising their contribution for the month. “We will be exploring what Margazhi means to us. It will be a celebration of the divine through art and food, and a celebration of the city,” begins founder-artist Shalini Biswajit.

A divine canvas

Kicking off on December 21, Margazhi Musings - Savouring the Art of Margazhi will feature the work of nine artists, including AV Ilango, Chandra Morkonda, Manisha Raju, Ramesh Gorjala, Thejomaye Menon and Biswajit Balasubramanian. “As several of them won’t be present, I’ll discuss their works, explaining the inspirations and what each portrays. For the Andal series, Ilango will explore the Alvar saint pining for the grace of Vishnu, while Manisha’s will be a serene contemplation. Biswajith’s interpretation is hilarious, seen through a very contemporary lens — depicting Andal wearing a modern sari, sporting a Berkin bag, with her two poetic works on a notepad,” she explains.

The second series of paintings will be traditional and modern takes on Lord Vishnu, whom the poet-saint merges with. “Ramesh Gorjala’s is a traditional Vishnu, within whose image his various avatars and narratives will be depicted. Thejomaye’s will be vibrant, almost in a Kathakali form, while my rendition will be abstract, exploring the Lord through metaphors like the namam and the conch,” she says.

  • As part of Raghunathan’s Food Culture Collective (post the Forum event), you can join him for a film screening (a documentary on Buddhist monk Jeong Kwan and her philosophy on food, at SPI Cinemas), head to a farm on the outskirts of Chennai (at Vedanthangal, where they have been preserving and cultivating over 100 varieties of rice), go on a Mylapore food walk, and have a conversation with classical musician Sudha Ragunathan on the unique connections between food and music (at The Folly, Amethyst). From December 21-24. Details:

A series of cartoons on the city — depicting the sabha goers, musicians, dancers, child prodigies — will also be on display, along with four saris created by Lakshmi Srinath, owner-designer of city-based brand Tvam, from her Margazhi Poo collection. The sari motifs draw inspiration from the yellow pumpkin flower — traditionally placed in lumps of cow dung in the middle of kolams, during this season.

Vadas in the mix

But what Shalini is most looking forward to is the launch event, a collaboration with singer and food heirloom curator, Rakesh Raghunathan, on food inspired by art and vice versa. “He will recite poems, sing, narrate stories, and talk about the food associated with both Andal and Vishnu,” she says. There will be food installations of akkara adisal, Tirupati vada, Kanchipuram idli and Azhagar Kovil dosai, with their accompanying accessories like the bamboo baskets, and photographs by D Sashikant on exhibit.

“Vishnu loves the finer things of life, be it clothes, perfumes or food. Which is why Vishnu temples have some of the best prasadamspuliyodarai, ven pongal, chakkara pongal, etc,” shares Raghunathan, who runs Puliyogare Travels, an initiative that curates experiences around food. “For the cooking demonstration, I’m leaning towards the Tirupati vada. I will discuss its history, intricacies and cultural background as well.” The event will end with high tea, with servings of pongal, sundal, vada, and filter coffee.

At Forum Art Gallery, from December 21 to January 11. Details: 42115596

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 8:38:25 PM |

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