Time to celebrate, contemplate Madras

Published - August 13, 2013 08:30 am IST - CHENNAI:

It’s that time of the year when most places in the city celebrate the 374 birthday of Chennai that was born Madras.

You can spend your day discovering the dialects of Madras, rediscover the Islamic heritage of Chennai, and train your eyes on puppets that will bring alive the wildlife in Chennai.

And, you still would not have seen it all.

What began as Madras Day 10 years back now spills over to the following month as well. Though the volunteer-driven Madras Week officially spans from August 18 to 25, celebratory events begin weeks ahead and go on well up to September.

This time, Madras Week packs in the regular features such as heritage walks of Fort St. George and Triplicane as well as Pulicat and Royapuram. Historian Sriram V. said the organisers could also look at archiving and documenting their previous years’ material on their website.

He said over the years, the festival’s patronage had only gone up. “A housing colony approached us to participate. Also, this year, there are events in areas in north Madras such as Perambur and Erukancherry.”

One of the highlights will be photo exhibition ‘Through the looking glass – World War II servicemen Glen S. Hensley and Frank Bond take a break in our city’ at Gatsby Village between August 22 and September 1. These photographs from the Digital South Asia Library Archives, University of Chicago, will give a glimpse into the city and its old landmarks.

Transparent Chennai’s walkability project to improve pedestrian infrastructure in Nanganallur, the Banyan Walk to take participants through the adversities and challenges faced by the homeless, a look at vanishing wetlands and a heritage lost in ‘Heritage lost: Lessons from Pallikaranai by Nityanand Jayaram’ — sessions such as these, said Sashi Nair of Press Institute of India – Research Institute for Newspaper Development, were attempts to make a connect with what is happening in the city today.

For nature lovers, there will be a series of walks in Nanmangalam Forest Park, Panagal Park and Semmozhi Poonga, among others. There will also be food trails, talks, film screenings, photo exhibitions, quizzes and bicycle trails, all exploring lesser known facets of the 374-year-old city.

S. Muthiah said if the city was aware of its history, it would make attempts to take care of it better.

And that is where Madras Week, played a role, he said. For more details, log on to themadrasday.in.

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