The 2006 edition of Sundaram Finance Mylapore
Festival attracts people outside Mylapore
By Our Staff Reporters
the annual Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival
achieved what it sets out to do - bring communities
to open spaces for a celebration of art, culture
year, it was a challenge. Because two leading
stores of the area, Rasi and NAC Jewellers, took
the organisers - Mylapore Times - to court. That
too, on the eve of the festival. The court order
upset the round-the-clock work that was going
on for the fest but the dampener had little effect.
the end, many Mylaporeans, young and old, enjoyed
a unique festival, which is getting national media
coverage, and is completely supported by 'Sundaram
in spaces around Sri Kapali Temple from January
5 to 8, the fest is getting bigger by the year.
Kuberan and his team decorated the streets with
lamps encased in coloured shades while Bhoopalan
advised the lighting team to bring the streets
to life and Pandurangan taxed his team to have
the stalls up in record time.
of which, along with the illumination on some
heritage houses, set the tone for the colourful
two kolam contests brought about 150-plus each
evening. A woman from Nanganallur, who later won
a prize, said it was a prestigious event to take
women from the UK dropped by to take a close look
- they are researching Indian designs and motifs
and the carpet of kolams was a godsend.
it has evolved to become a four-day festival,
of which the two-day kolam contest is the highlight.
men on stilts (kokkalikattai), who came from Wallajah,
performed a vigorous dance on the street, and
won over the kids.
scattered rains late on Saturday disturbed the
mythological play by Ananda Vinayaka Nataka Manram,
in progress on the main stage. But the actors
didn't give up. They lit camphor at the temple
gate, the rains stopped and the play was started
again. When it ended at 10.30pm (sorry, residents
of Sannidhi St.) there were 200 people to applaud
heritage tours on cycle-rickshaws received a great
response - four foreign tourists jumped in on
Saturday. Dr. Amarnath played a part time guide
and the breakfast (pongal, vada and coffee) stop
at the heritage house of Manjula and Natarajan
on East Mada Street is still generating 'wows'
from those who were on the tour.
Tamil Nadu Quiz held at Lady Sivaswami Girls school
attracted 180 teams. Some said it was tough, some
liked the variety. And the finale was tight. The
winners - V. V. Ramanan and Ramkumar Shankar,
who called themselves Chennai Vennai, and second
was Deccan Dreams with V. Deviprasad and N. Srinivasan.
at the same venue, were artistic displays by nine
people - craftworks borrowed from Navaratri kolu
displays. Great work, congested corridor. It was
a first time effort and the organisers plan a
bigger independent show in 2007.
the streets came alive. Pitchupillai Street, the
Art Street run by Stella Maris Fine Arts students,
was teeming, as was Kumaragurunathan Street where
stalls offered crafts of all kinds and the Tamil
book sales stalls on East Tank Street got a better
response. It was good to see good old Alwar -
Mylapore's colourful old books seller - also find
a place here.
teacher Sasikrishnan brought his students from
Chettinad Vidyashram, stretched out a canvas,
and worked on a Mylapore theme. Visiting kids
daubed a bit.
art contests for kids was a riot - of colour and
screams for prizes. The Stella Maris girls managed
Kalaripayattu performed by youngsters on the main
stage on Sunday ( courtesy - Aseema Trust) made
a huge impression, especially on young people.
They had flown into the city from Madrid that
morning and enjoyed presenting the show before
going back to their native places.
Kalai Kuzhu's street theatre play on the elitist
educational system had people fixed to the quadrangle.
Guy's talk on 'Legal Eagles of Mylapore' and V.
Sriram's talk on 'History of The Music Academy'
also drew good audiences.
last show - vintage Thamizh film songs of T. M.
Soundararajan, presented by Madhu's Viswaraag
- was a great way to sign off.
the spanner in the works, the festival ran its
course. And if the comments posted by people are
anything to go by, Mylaporeans are proud of it.
And want it to get bigger and better.
it fair to frustrate the Mylapore Festival ?
By Vincent D' Souza
do you frustrate a community event?
Times, the organisers of the 'Sundaram Finance
Mylapore Festival' learnt it the hard way.
In the end, it was a good learning experience.
the years, the annual kolam contest has grown
into the festival, and come out into the open,
and there have been murmurs from a few businesses
on the Mada Streets that the fest causes 'huge
losses and upsets shoppers'.
one occasion in the past, a leading jeweller on
North Mada Street, attempted to upset the hour
long kolam contest held on this street.
Silk Emporium's promoters want the fest scrapped.
year, dialogues by the organisers with business
people 'opposed' to the fest have not turned positive.
it too much to complain when one side of a street
is made 'vehicle-free' for a world famous kolam
contest held only for one hour?
opponents have only one stance - go to some playground
and have the kolams done there.
fail to appreciate and acknowledge the fact that
the fest ( 30 events, over 200 artistes, 4 days)
attracts thousands of people from all over the
city as well as tourists and this can only help
business; not cause 'huge losses'. Ironically,
the people who oppose the fest are themselves
in the business of tradition /arts /heritage.
time around, the opposition turned severe. A case
was filed in the High Court on the eve of the
fest. Which meant the organizers had to be in
court from 11am to 4pm on Day One of the Fest,
thus frustrating the preparations.
were passed that shops should not be put up on
Sundareswarar Street because there are two schools
here and untoward incidents could take place.
The fact is - the schools close by 3 pm and the
fest events open only after 5.30 pm. Result -
crafts stalls, set up by self-help group women
from the city and suburbs, and the food fest stalls
had to be shut down that evening once the court
orders were issued. (They were shifted to other
for simple women and waste of huge quantities
of foodstuff. And this is the most popular street
the court order directed that nothing be placed
in front of the Rasi store, even four poles put
up to merely support a roof of giant canvas kites
created by young artists, had to be removed, and
hence, artistic works rendered waste.
foreign shoppers at this store happily enjoyed
the shows from the sidelines. And lest it be forgotten,
the store till lately had a canopy on public space,
and erects shamianas for its sales, and has all
its vehicles parked here for good. So does Rasi
have the moral right to snub a fest?
the Day One events got underway, delayed though,
some men opened the manholes on East Mada Street,
drew out sewage, dumped it in the middle, and
disappeared. Vehicles running on it spread
far and wide. Was this another method to create
stink at the fest?
rapped the staff of the lighting contractors,
asking them to shut off / shift generators. Momentary
darkness followed. Another way to frustrate visitors?
people became aware of the legal case, the issues,
and the tactics used to negate the fest, they
expressed their annoyance strongly.
meetings at Mangollai, day-night pujas outside
the temple, large street-corner clothes sales,
private parking cornered by a few businesses -
all these flourish here.
a unique, not-for-profit cultural event, managed
by just three full-time people, and a small band
of volunteers, now on the national map, is sought
to be frustrated.
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