Madras Week 2023

Madras Week is here again. Madras Day, Madras Week, Madras Month, call it what you will, is back. Here we are, celebrating our city and all that it stands for. Begun around 19 years ago by S. Muthiah, Vincent D’Souza and Sashi Nair, it now has a dedicated band of people who conduct events during the month of August, which was probably when the English first came here in 1639 and gave the growth of what was Madarasapattinam and its subsequent adjunct Chennapattinam a major fillip.

Celebrating a city and not its founding

That said, Madras Day is not a celebration of the founding of the city (it was not founded out of nothing) and it is not a day out for Raj apologists. It is a celebration of a thriving city. What is heartening is that Madras Week celebrations have been going on for over nineteen years. And it has acquired adherents. There are some schools, a few colleges, a couple of consulates and embassies, some heritage enthusiasts, a corporate house or two and of course a larger presence on social media. Heritage Walks have now come to stay. What it seems to lack is more by way of organisers. The same faces keep coming back year after year.

The same faces in Madras Week?

It has often been argued that the annual December Music Season suffers from the same malaise – the same organisers, the same performers, and the same audiences. But that can be true of a classical art, which by its very name indicates a small section of society. But can it be true of a city? Surely in a vast metropolis there ought to be more people wanting to conduct events and celebrating the place that defines their lives?

And no, by that we do not mean we need more ideas on what to conduct by way of events. The present set of people involved have their hands full by way of what they do and if people have ideas and suggestions on what can be done otherwise, they ought to implement them as well. There is also a variety that keeps thinking that Madras Week has a body of organisers. This is a fallout of the Sabha mentality – that you need an organiser to conduct such events. Madras Week has always been free of that – anyone with an idea can implement it in whatever way they want. If they need any advice those who are already celebrating Madras Week will be happy to give it.

The Naysayers of Madras Week

But we don’t need any armchair suggestions, thank you very much. We have a set of naysayers as well. This group keeps crying itself hoarse that Madras Week is elitist, celebrates the colonial, and is restricted to a few. But what can we do with such pre-conceived notions? Ignoring them would be the best. Getting these people to organise what in their view would be non-elitist, non-colonial and open to all would be even better. But so far that lot has not shown any inclination for any positive action. Carping seems to be more their way. The latest jeremiad has it that we should not celebrate but lament over the general squalor. How will abstaining from the former help the latter is beyond us.

Implement your ideas please

And so, if you have an idea for Madras Week – get out there and implement it. If you need any help, contact us at or If you already have an event in place please do email and the information will be up on We will also be glad to receive your feedback when you participate in any event. For its part, Madras Musings will be organising a set of seven programmes between August 21 to 27. The events will be open to all and the details will soon be up on and also We look forward to seeing you at the events.

This article appeared in Madras Musings in its issue dated August 1 2023 –