On August 22, the city will celebrate its 375th birthday. To commemorate the milestone, various events are being organised from the beginning of August to the first week of September under the aegis of ‘Madras Week Celebrations’.
The Madras Week from August 17 -24 has evolved into a month-long affair over the years and the initiative’s success has primarily hinged on volunteers. S Muthiah, the city’s chronicler and one of the core convenors of the initiative, said. “While there exists an informal group of co-coordinators who function in the capacity of facilitators (publicity, advice and arranging possible venues), participation is purely a voluntary effort by those wanting to organise programmes during the week, he added. We hope that more people from neighbourhoods across the city take the initiative to participate actively in organising events in their own localities.”
Local groups in Vadapalani, Kodambakkam, and Anna Nagar for instance have already taken the lead he said.
Over the past 11 years, the movement has grown from strength to strength. Heritage walks, a lecture series, quizzes, photo and cartoon exhibitions, food festivals and other competitive programmes are some of the activities set to be held during the month.
Youngsters have much to look forward to — the annual Murugappa Groups’s Madras Quiz, and the series of competitive programmes organised by the Chennai Chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH).
In keeping with the times, the initiative also has launched a social media app called Chennai Past Forward (www.chennaipastforward.com) which attempts to create a virtual space to excavate Chennai’s past. Conceived by historian V. Sriram, the mobile application for Android and iOS systems helps identify various heritage spots in the city and learn about them as one passes them by. With 270 historical buildings already fed into the database he said: “We hope to reach 375 by the month of August, just in time for the celebrations to begin.”
Those who wish to volunteer for the celebrations can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.