A Report by Ashokha Varshini in New Indian Express.
THE usually bustling North Mada Street slowly settled down to the festivities, as the clock approached 3.45 p.m., at the Mylapore Festival by Sundaram Finance from January 3 to 6.
What began as a simple kolam contest 13 years ago has today grown into a four day celebration of tradition.
The usual smoke belching cars and bikes were replaced by women gearing up with their bowls of flour, little children trying their hands at wavy designs, relatives hissing instructions along the sidelines, lensmen clicking away and, what’s more, foreigners and tourists posing next to their favourite kolams!
Nearly 140 participants took part in the event (including a lone male crusader, for the first time) from 10-year-old Bhavana to the 74-year-old Vaidehi, who participated with zest in spite of her shaky hands.
“This is my tenth year of participation in this event, and I always come back as it is punniyam (virtuous) to draw kolams near the temple,” says Vaidehi, who comes all the way from Gudunvanchery every year to be a part of the Mylapore Festival.
Prizes were given to 15 best entries, adjudged by Gayatri, a researcher on the origin and patterns of kolams.
Just as the kolams were being given their final touches, the drumbeats began. The next attraction of the Mylapore Festival was the Kokkalikattai (Stilt show), a traditional performance in which men walked and danced on top of long sticks attached to their legs.
As the performance moved through the streets, the stunning stunts and sheer energy drew a lot of applause from the crowd.
Many other cultural programmes like Bharatanatyam, Kolattam, Puli vesham and Kaliyattam entertained the audiences through the evening. A documentary featuring the sights and sounds of Mylapore, its current problems and possible solutions, was also screened for the public.
The ‘Food Street’ that was set up satisfied many eager taste buds with delicious Kozhakattais, lip-smacking Kuzhi paniyarams and other South Indian delights. The fashion-conscious teens and artistic adults were not disappointed either, as the ‘Art Street’ set up by the fine arts students of Stella Maris College and others showcased beautiful beads, bracelets, pots, vases, bags and other accessories.
One could also get his/her portrait done in less than 15 minutes, get his/her name engraved on a single grain of rice or a key chain or even get gorgeous mehendi designs done. For book lovers, there was a bookstall set up near the temple tank, offering books at discounted prices, alongside the ‘Crafts Bazaar’ presenting the wares of Women Self-Help Groups.
The ever-popular ‘Kutcheri in the Park’ at Nageswara Rao Park added to the festive mood.
Heritage Walks around Mylapore were an added attraction this year, bringing out its rich culture and ways of life.
“This may as well be starting point for different parts of the city to come up with their own fests, displaying their own distinct culture,” said S Prabhu, PR Manager, Sundaram Finance Group. Well, Chennaiites are definitely not complaining!