Madras Day Chennai

From the terraces of Mylapore, a children’s club checks into cyberspace

Children assemble before a programme for the All India Radio. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Kasthuribha Club in Mylapore is brick-and-mortar about its meet-ups. In the 70 years it has existed, it has moved from one member’s terrace to another’s to organise its activities. It is also not unusual for the Club to gather at a temple.

Given this, one would naturally expect the essentially hyperlocal Club to wait out the pandemic before having its next activity. Belying the expectation, it has started a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8i0lUZ4ss-pxBhCa7Pl-JQ/videos). A website is on the drawing board.

The Club focusses on the value-based education of the very young — children in the three to 15 years group — by offering them free classes and annual competitions.

D. Selvarajan, former employee of The Hindu, started the Club in 1949. K.S. Bhatt, an IRS officer, associated along with his family to build the activities at the club. After Selvarajan and Bhatt passed on, their respective families kept the club’s activities running.

Today, the Club is being run by a group of volunteers.

“With many avenues now open for children, for our activities to stay relevant it has become necessary to tap into technology and I am glad that those who have benefited from the Club have come forward to help create a digital identity for the Club,” says K.S. Shankar, honorary secretary of Kasthuribha Club.

In the two months since the channel was opened, the Club has uploaded 200 plus videos. Slokas, songs and Thirukurral rendered by children are uploaded on the platform.

“Creating a YouTube channel is our humble way of giving back to the Club that has given us so much,” says Arun Madhavan, an IT professional and an alumnus of the Club, who is helping build the Club’s digital presence.

Arun remembers accompanying his grandmother to the Karaneeswarar Temple in Mylapore — one of the favourite meeting points for the Club — where he got drawn towards some of its classes.

“I was around five when the chants of children singing at the temple steps drew me to the Club’s other activities too,” says Arun. Back then, the Club’s annual membership fee was pegged at ₹2 and taking part in the events conducted by the Club was a matter of pride,” says Arun.

Karthik Bhatt, another alumnus, remembers the trips made to the AIR station. “The Club hosts three to four programmes at AIR every year, and preparing for these programmes was exciting in itself. We had rehearsals before we gave a group show, and hearing our voice on radio was a big thing,” says Karthik, a chartered account and a theatre artiste, who is using his networking skills to promote the Club.

Its classes on Tiruppavai and Tiruvempavai are held in the month of Margazhi, followed by competitions on Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Tirukkural recitation, oratorical skills, rangoli, drawing and fancy dress. Eminent people are invited to the Club’s anniversary to inspire the youngsters.

“An important lesson I learnt being part of the children’s club is that it’s not about winning, but participating,” says Arun.

As part of the process of creating a website, the Club seeks to go back to its roots, and the exercise includes an exposition of the vision that first members had for it. So, it is collecting a lot of information about the early members of the Club.

Says Karthik, “Please come forward as we would like to connect and expand our reach and see how you can contribute to society.”

(If you are aware of any hyperlocal group in your neighbourhood that is seeking to expand its reach through technology, write to us at downtownfeedback@thehindu.co.in)

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 6:43:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/from-the-terraces-of-mylapore-a-childrens-club-checks-into-cyberspace/article32415331.ece

Next Story