Society

Flashbacks of a festival

Illustration: Trotsky Marudu.   | Photo Credit: mamp23marudu



Trotsky Marudu, Art director: Chithirai Thiruvizha is a big exposure for me during 1950s and 60s. People from surrounding areas came down to Madurai in bullock carts and occupy almost all dry tanks and ponds. I still remember seeing the dazzling display of fireworks that announced the arrival of the Lord into the city. I see Lord Kallazhagar as an ancient Tamil warrior. The palanquin, decorations, the spear and valari (boomerang) the Lord carries greatly influenced my drawings. Even today when I draw Tamil kings, only the figure of the Lord comes to my mind. Whenever I used to meet actor Vadivelu and cinematographer N.K. Viswanathan, I would ask Vadivelu to sing songs on Azhagar. I was thrilled to hear him sing in the same vein as traditional singers. It brought back a lot of childhood memories.

M. Shanmugaraja, theatre artiste and actor: Once, on the night before Azhagar’s entry into Vaigai, I was with the fisherman community who sang and danced till dawn. If Madurai is called the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu it is also because of this mega carnival. I have been to many places and recently visited Lucerne Carnival in Switzerland, but nothing like our Chithirai festival. I believe the festival keeps the city more vibrant and dynamic as it injects a fresh spirit in people every year.

Karu. Palaniappan, actor and director: I was fortunate to witness both the Temple Car procession and the Azhagar festival from the comfort of my home. Even during the off-season I used to frequent the shed where the temple car is stationed to see the film posters pasted on the tin sheets. Every time I visit Madurai, Chithirai festival fascinates me a lot and I made use of it in my film Sivapathigaram. We shot the climax of the movie live with more than seven lakh people around. I just can’t forget the contributions of my classmate Arulprakasam and veteran journalist and author of Seevalaperi Pandi Sowba, who helped me to shoot the entire festival without any hassle.

Gaurav Narayanan, actor and director: The overwhelming crowd and the vibrant colours of the festival are big inspirations for me. This is one festival where a commoner becomes a celebrated guest. The hospitality of Madurai people can be seen during this time, where there’ll be neer-mor pandals all along the street offering buttermilk for devotees. The Temple Car waddling through a sea of people casting its silhouette against the morning sunlight and children playing with soap bubbles are etched in my memory. On the night before Azhagar’s entry into Vaigai, I used to roam around the streets of Madurai with my friends and we would reserve space on the banks of the river to witness the event the next morning.

M.G. Raffic Ahamed, painter: We lived in West Masi Street, a hot spot during the Chithirai Thiruvizha. During that period our cousins from far and near used to visit us. The boys sincerely attempted to impress the girls in the family. I used to take my cousins around the city. During the festival, lots of local mittais were sold and little children would eat rose candies to colour their lips. As a child, the exquisite wooden carvings on the car, drum beats, elephants and camels created a sense of wonderment in me.

R. Prabahar, Music director: I came to Madurai during 1980s. For the past three decades I am amazed to see people gathering for this festival. In fact, visitors outnumber the locals in this festival. I still remember the days when my friends in an attempt to cash in on the occasion, tried to sell puliyotharai and curd rice packets during the festival. But to their disappointment they were not able to sell even a single packet. When they were desperately looking for a reason for the failure, a policeman on duty told them the food packets will not attract the visiting people as they come here in groups with their own catering team.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 12:37:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/flashbacks-of-a-festival/article8509155.ece

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