Monthly Archives: September 2016

Mahalaya Amavasya 2016 in Chennai, India

This year Mahalaya Amavasya falls on sept 30th 2016 and considered as the beginning of dussehra. It is marked as special day dedicated to making an offering to express our gratitude to all previous generations of people who have contributed to our life and it will be celebrated in several parts of India. Some consider it as the most important day for performing obsequies and rites.On this day people donate food, clothes etc to the needy.

In Chennai, It indicates the first day of Navathri which is dedicated to the worship of the deity Durga. On that auspicious day, people perform their rituals near the shore of beach, temple and home. I have documented a series of Mahalayam rituals happened in Chennai. Please check the images below.

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An article and photographs by Srivatsan Sankaran

Indian Youth Conclave Second Edition – Chennai, India

The second edition of the Youth convention popularly known as the IYC, organized by The Climber, on the 25th of September at Chinmaya Heritage Center, Chetpet. The theme of the event was being curated around the concept of “inspiration live and up-front”. The event featured some of the fine speakers and workshops from the conventional and un-conventional fields from music and dance to entrepreneurship and technology.
Coming to the organizers, The Climber is an IIM Bangalore incubated startup and was awarded the best early stage startup by Bzz Wings 2015. The Climber has also been recognized as one of the 10 best startups by TATA First Dot NEN. We have our chapters in 13 cities all over the country.They are a youth driven organization that focuses on helping students discover and pursue their passion. We connect young minds with wacky ideas, to encouraging mentors who help channelize them in the right direction.
The idea was for the youth to get inspired by the journey of people who are successful by following their passion.
The event kicked off with some enlightening speeches from Parvathi Nayar, Vikas Chawla and Sahithya Jagganathan. Their emphasis was solely on inspiring budding entrepreneurs to break outside their comfort zone and pursue their passion with girth and determination.

This was shortly followed by a stand up comedy act by Stray Factory.We were entertainments with some music and dance performances by youngsters.

Apart from this, the backstage events were happening simultaneously. Jam sessions, art and photography exhibitions and micro fiction counters were put up. The eye catcher was however the captain’s corner where the participants could interact with the mentors.
This was complemented by some eye-catching graffiti featured on the walls and photographs.

On the whole, the event was thoroughly educational with a lot of takeaways. It is indeed inspiring to see young professionals conduct events on a grand scale.

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An article by Pavithraa Swaminathan and Photographs by Srivatsan Sankaran. A special thanks to Anirban Saha, Founder Kolkata bloggers for inviting us .

Second Metro Rail Route Inauguration – Photo story

With all the hustle and bustle, the second metro line in the city was inaugurated on the morning of Wednesday by the honourbale chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. The route that connects Little Mount and Airport is 8.6 kilometres long encompassing Guindy, Alandur, Meenambakkam, Nanganallur Road and Chennai Airport. The first train was run by a lady loco pilot, similar to the inauguration of the first line.

This route will merge at the Alandur station in a different tier to the existing Koyambedu –Alandur route. Hence, people traveling from Koyambedu to Airport will have to change trains at Alandur, the process that is expected to be a hassle free one. With the fares ranging from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50, the spending would be much effective with more lines opening in the near future.

The inaugural day saw happy faces of the metro rail officials greeting the passengers who were doing a jolly ride on the first day and guiding them. All the stations were lit up and decorated and the brand new trains also vibrated festivity and positivity.

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An article and photographs by Smita Joshi.

Vinayaga idol Procession & Immersion 2016, Chennai | Photo Story

Although the day of anant Chaturdashi is the most significant day to immerse Ganesha idol in the sea, some places also have the habit of performing the Visarjan on 3rd or 5th or 7th day of the Pooja. On the Visarjan day, the statue of the god is immersed in a water body after the final offerings of the flowers, coconuts and sweet. A grandeur fanfare with large crowds squirming in the street is seen when the idols are being taken to the ‘Visarjan’. Thousands of devotees join the procession and fill the atmosphere with chants. The procession is accompanied with Dhol and other traditional instruments.
Immersions are allowed in few public places like Patnapakkam, Neelankarai and Royapuram to reduce the debris and pollution. Below images are taken in patnapakkam since it’s the major spot for immersion process.

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An article by Smita Joshi and photographs by Srivatsan Sankaran

The Creators behind these stunning Clay creations – Making of Idols

India is a country popularly known for its rich cultural heritage. And by heritage we also mean the rich lineage it has passed down from various generations such as the different festivals and traditions.
And Chennai is not an exception to this. With the festive day just around the corner, we at madras photo bloggers decided to visit the places of origin of clay-made Vinayagas.
Kosapet, popularly known as the doll making neighborhood of Chennai, is a small village nestled into the intricate parts of the city and houses some of the major doll makers in the city.
The people living here are known for their artistic skills. Consisting of some of the major artisans in the city, the neighborhood is lined with low roofed thatched houses and one-lined pathways.
The inhabitants inherit the business and the skills from their forefathers and ancestors and it has been passed down to the upcoming generations as well.
Treading down the lesser known paths, we make keen observations about the life lead by the people here peppered with casual banter and interviews.
The smell of mud and primer lingers in the air as we near a man working on a 15 foot Ganesha idol. “Varying with the customer’s requirements, we design the Ganesha’s” he says when I question him about the white idol. “I am in this profession for more than 11 years. Being an active painter for the most part of my life, I chose this because I love this art. I fly down to Chennai from wherever I am, 3 months before the Vinayaka Chaturthi, to paint the idols” he says smiling.
Each household consists close of 4 to 5 members right from the head who are actively involved in doll making. And though they practice the same profession, they don’t fall under any contract or a factory, practicing business separately.
“The process consists of 4 major steps” says an enthusiastic elder, as I make detailed notes with a pen.
“First is the mould. We prepare that with Plaster of Paris. And then the clay is kneaded well and pressed against between the moulds. After that, the idols are completed with carvings which are not covered in the moulds. Once all the corrections are made, we give coat of gold for the ornaments”.
We watch on under the supervision of 600 odd Ganesh idols, decked neatly in the shelves covering the wall Upto the roof.
The business is an ongoing one until the advent of Aadi Masam, the fourth month in the Tamil Calendar, where they face a lag since that month is considered inauspicious and thus doesn’t house many events or festivals.
Once the month ends, a string of festivals spruce up one after the other.
“We never stagnate. After Vinayaka Chaturthi comes Navarathri. And then we have Christmas. And during the period of Thai Masam, the tenth month as per the traditional Hindu calendar, we have these street festivals (thiruvizha) and temple consecration projects” says Muniyamma, a resident of that area.
The area is covered by a resident’s association.
Inquiring about the conditions of their livelihood, she remarks wistfully about the plight of the people living there. “While the government is prepared to give subsidies and help the poor whenever we approach them with a plea, there isn’t any unity here. The rich people continue to dominate the scene and prevent any form of help from reaching us”.
The wages keep varying to and fro and it’s a struggle to make ends meet there. During peak seasons, even when they manage to sell more, the income is not a constant one.
The preparations start 3 weeks prior to the date of the festival, so it allows enough leeway for the clay to dry and seat properly.Huge Idols on street Fascinating Idols “Clay is the purest form of soil. And since it is dissolved, we are able to make a business out of it every year”. Laughter ringing loud, we make our way out of the small entrance, chuckling to ourselves.
The entire street, up until the houses, are decked up with huge idols of Ganesha which are imported from Thirupathi, where they create such idols.
“All the major ones come from thirupathi. Each lorry can carry upto 5 to 6 idols and while in transit, they might encounter damages from trees. We mend and finish the corrections and send it off to different temples as per the requirements”, says Ramesh. He is a contractor catering to the festivals in the city.
In line with the recent restrictions from the Government of Tamil Nadu, these idols are made with a special mixture made from paper and other essential ingredients with the exclusion of insoluble chemicals like Plaster of Paris. Highly soluble and eco-friendly, they are designed to ensure to not disrupt the sea life.
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Skilled artisans are shipped down from various places to correct the misplaced and chipped parts before they are set off to different clients. Covering close to about 25 varieties of Ganesha’s, it is a sight to behold.
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Having spoken in length to different people, we slowly make our way back to the city, the village fading away in the distance. With mild thunder resounding, we catch hurried movements, as each idol was covered with thick sheets of translucent plastic sheets as a protection from the rain threatening to give in any time soon.

An article by Pavithra Swaminathan
Photos and Videos by Srivatsan Sankaran and Kirbaa Karan