August is the birthday month of Madras for it was on 22nd August 1639 that the city was founded on a piece of no man’s sand. And the celebrations during Madras Week, which will be observed from 17th to 24th August this year, promise to be spectacular.
This year, a larger number of institutions and associations have joined the celebrations. While the hotel industry has as usual laid out the red carpet with the Taj Coromandel, the Taj Connemara, Park Sheraton, The Park, Chamiers and Green Park joining in as they did in previous years, their band has been joined by The Rain Tree run by Ceebros Ecotel.
The Heritage Clubs in schools are busying themselves with projects, exhibitions and area studies. The Asan Memorial School appears to have taken the lead with a five day celebration (18th to 22nd). Vanilla, a play school in Mylapore for young children will be holding story telling sessions with Madras as a theme.
For the first time, the celebrations are fanning out from South Madras to other parts of the city. The Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidyalaya Matriculation HS School, Anna Nagar will be the venue for talks on 20th and 23rd August. Greenpark Hotel is planning an afternoon of programmes in Vadapalani on the 23rd. What is most gratifying for us at Madras Musings is the eager participation of the Avvai Kalai Kazhagam of Royapuram, thereby bringing in North Madras into the celebrations. This institution which houses the Srinivasa Ramanujan museum will host a series of talks in collaboration with Madras Musings between the 17th and 23rd of August. These talks will be in Tamil. In addition, Madras Musings will host talks in English at various locations in South Madras between the 18th and 24th.
There are at least six heritage walks to be conducted at various locations in the city and this list promises to grow as the date approaches. Art galleries Sri Parvati and Focus have planned art exhibitions with Chennai based themes. A band of philatelists and numismatists have planned a thematic exhibition at Rajaji Hall, the highlight of which promises to be a series of photographs taken all along the Buckingham Canal by Hemchandra Rao. The late AL Lakshmanan’s autograph collection comprising the signatures of several historical personalities will be on display at the Taj Coromandel even as the Vintage Vignettes photographs of old Madras will be exhibited at Taj Connemara. The Taj Coromandel will also host a food festival dedicated to the cuisine of Madras Presidency with recipes taken from Chandra Padmanabhan’s forthcoming book- Dakshin. The Roja Muthiah Research Library is working on an exhibition titled Madras and the Freedom Movement which will be inaugurated on August 15th.
At least three books related to Madras will be released during Madras Week. On the 17th, Sriram V’s Historic Residences of Chennai, a bilingual book will be released at the Taj Connemara under the auspices of the Madras Book Club. S Muthiah’s book on the Taj Connemara will be released on the 19th at the same hotel. On the 24th, the long awaited Madras Gazetteer, sponsored by the Association of British Scholars will be released.
Rotary Clubs, the International Women’s Association, the Overseas Women’s Association, the Inner Wheel Club of India and many other social organisations are talking about joining the celebration. In short it promises to be a week (or may be a fortnight or a month) of joy. We hope it grows in stature for this is the least we can do for this city, our home.
We have provided a pull-out of the events with their location along with this issue. We request organisations that are interested to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and ideas.