Category Archives: culture

The Real Essence of Kolam contest, Myalpore Festival 2018

All great cities have a soul. Mylapore can rightfully claim to be the soul of Chennai city here in south India. It pre-dates Chennai’s birth in the 17th cent. And has seen the city grow as it has, its own. Mylapore retains the look and feel of an old neighborhood, the culture and heritage typically south Indian, yet it has not escaped development. This place that is proud of its arts, culture and tradition and people is just the setting for a cultural festival. A festival held in its very heart and around a great temple. Held every year in early January. It was a grand show in 2018 and the traditional pulli kolam contest was held as a part of festival.Around 100 women and men fought it out on a four-ft-by-four-ft space for 15 prizes in the 45-minute contest on the east end of North Mada Street.  Neetesh Kumar has captured the beautiful scenes of kolam contest during the Mylapore festival and his story telling images depict  not only the real essence of old traditional pulli Kolam but also his beautiful composition.

 

Thanks Neetesh Kumar for the wonderful pictures and all images are copy right protected.

Quick Bite with Sonnet Mondal

Sonnet Mondal has read, and represented India, at literary festivals in Macedonia; Cork, Ireland; Istanbul, Turkey; Granada, Nicaragua; Sri Lanka; and Slovakia. Winner of the 2016 Gayatri Gamarsh Memorial award for literary excellence, Sonnet was one of the authors of Silk Routes Project, IWP, University of IOWA. One of the current directors of Odisha Art & Literature Festival, Sonnet Mondal edits the Indian section of Lyrikline Poetry Archive, Berlin and serves as the Editor in Chief of the Enchanting Verses Literary Review (www.theenchantingverses.org) His upcoming visits include 2018 Galle Literary Festival, Sri Lanka.

  1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I just scribbled one piece of 10 lines, back in 2006 which I don’t recall as a poem, but something which drew me into writing poetry.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

A poet’s eye is his sensitivity and together with intellect, he creates an aperture called poetry through which readers can perceive that everything we see, feel, hear and sense is not everything. I feel like travelling through my deepest emotions while writing poetry and it allows me to examine and re-examine the world. The way how I see life is best communicated through this journey.

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

No single piece of art can relate to all walks of life at the same time. Poetry portrays those emotions which cannot be pictured — through any direct exact way or through any other genre of literature.

Taking poetry as a curiosity and a form of expression — it has always had a limited yet pronounced space in the world.  The general mindset — that people don’t understand poetry and are unenthusiastic about reading poetry is a misconstrued rendition of the queries  — that readers have about poetry while thinking of buying an anthology. May be — it can be addressed to a certain extent by incorporating more poetry sessions or workshops in literary festivals or events.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

Thoughts have no time to arrive. They may pop up even in extreme situations. They are extremely volatile and evaporate easily from mind. So I mostly make notes whenever they surface in my mind and later I work upon them after 12 at night. Night somehow allows me to give the much desired shape to my muse. The desire to have an element of surprise in my life and the desire to have a sight of the skyline through the uplifting mistiness, often inspire me to write down poems.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Waves as such come, break and dissipate into obscurity. I think ‘Poetry’ and ‘Insta-poetry’ should not be confused. Poetry is the most pithy and figurative of all genres of literature and these artificial prefixes added to the word ‘Poetry’ don’t make them what we have known or what I call as poetry.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in the future in terms of poetry?

I never thought about taking my poetry somewhere. It travels with me like my shadow. Poetry once on paper is independent and can travel on its own — beyond the fences set by desire or time.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organising such wonderful event.

Thanks Haris, Smita Anand and Kirbaa Karan for the wonderful pictures!

Quick Bite with Priya Sarukkai Chabria

Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, writer and translator with five published books. Awarded by the Indian Government for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature her works’ translated into six languages & is published in The British Journal of Literary Translation , Drunken Boat, Pratilipi, Language for a New Century, The Literary Review, IQ, Another English: Anglophone Poems from Around the World among others. Forthcoming in 2015 are translations of Tamil mystic poet Aandaal with Ravi Shankar (Zubaan) and a short story collection (Niyogi Book).

   1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

Sweltering Madras afternoons! When I was about 7 years old, I lived with my grandparents in Mylapore. Afternoons, the adults would doze and I had free run of the garden. This is my special place. It was overgrown and immensely peaceful. There was sanctity in that silence. I’ve tried to reach that secret, welcoming place every since, through words. Perhaps this was the initial spark.

  ​2. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

​I’ve been told my way of looking at the world is poetic​ — whatever that quite means. Perhaps an intensity of gaze and hearing? Seeking resonance? Reflective? Questing beauty, the everyday sacred…

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

​Doesn’t everyone become ​a poet when they fall in love? Why don’t they remain in love with life i.e. poetry?  The world will be a better place for it.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

​I write poetry whenever — on flights, before snoozing​g, I think of polishing the poem I’m working on in my sleep….  ​Poetry is a part of me. Sometimes though ​it doesn’t come easy. Sometimes pain or shock numbs me so much that I can’t write.  After my Amma passed on I couldn’t write for over six months.  At times I feared I’d never write again. Then a poem appeared, then another — trickle to flow to flood. Elegies for my mother. I’m grateful.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

​Why not? If it’s aesthetic enough it’s fine by me.  ​Geniuses aren’t ​the preserve of ​long or classical forms. But geniuses are rare.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

T​he poetry will lead, I will follow. It’s like a poetic experience.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful event.

Thanks Haris and smita for the amazing pictures!

 

Quick Bite with Saima Afreen

Calcutta is where she grew up. To breathe she churns poems; to earn a living she works as a journalist. Her poems have been featured in The McNeese Review, The Notre Dame Review, The Nassau Review, The Asian Age, The Telegraph, The Times of India, and many other publications. Her poems have been part of several anthologies. She was invited as a poet delegate to Goa Arts and Literature Festival, 2016, Guntur Poetry Festival, TEDx VJINET, Writers Carnival, Aliah University and several other poetry platforms. She is currently working on the manuscript of her first poetry book.

  1. Can you say something about what made you write your first poem?

I was 14 when began writing poems. All I can reminisce is, one day I was feeling really restless; there was an unnamed angst which boiled inside me and wanted to erupt, get scattered. I picked up my pen, opened my notebook and wrote a poem in iambic pentameter about a crushed rose, its mingling with dust; edited it and then sent the work to The Asian Age newspaper, which had a column for students who wrote poetry. I then knew that something has changed inside me which demands to be spilled on the paper tearing a sliver of my soul.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

Poetry is an attempt to capture the zone that flickers briefly between the fields of light and darkness. In that short a duration a poet picks up what his eye catches, his mind registers and his cells record which may not be longer than the period when the fork between two leaves holds a raindrop only to let it fall the very next moment. This speck of time is distilled, crafted, resuscitated and then blown into life while it still remains a shadow of its own shadow. It holds the hand of the reader to make him part of this magical realm.

A sort of trance possesses me while I write poetry, the feeling is indescribable.

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out of its confined literary circle?

Poetry is wind, it’s always there. If you close the window and complain it’s sultry, you deny the breeze an invitation. Poetry is not rocket science, everyone can understand it and explore the journey the poet took to write the words. Can we see music? Why does an orchestra piece appeal to us? There’s something which connects with one’s being and makes one listen to it even when you don’t comprehend its nuances and the grammar involved.

Poetry isn’t confined in literary circles. If that were the case then mystic poet Rumi wouldn’t be embraced by so many people in today’s world. That’s how the other day at The Brew Room during the ongoing poetry session so many people turned up that there was hardly any space to stand, and trust me not all of them were students/aficionados of literature. Poetry festivals and reputed journals bring readers and poets together in a much faster way than before.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

No. There is no specific day or mood for me to write. Poetry comes on its own, uninvited, unannounced. It doesn’t even knock, it just stares at the pen and seeps onto the paper without me realising what’s happening. The images, of course, are already there in the subconscious lending voice to the words, colour to the depiction. Often, while I draft my journalistic reports, poems find their way onto the page. It so happened that one day while I was mentioning Russian ballerinas in one of my articles, a poem seized me till I wrote it. I titled it ‘A Song for the Twisted Feet of a Russian Ballerina’ published in an issue of The McNeese Review.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Depends who’s writing what. Your question has the answer. We often see oh-that-poor-brown-girl-troubled-by-misogyny-racism kind of poems bringing myriads of likes on Insta pages. Does it have the beauty of craft? Is it different from the usual attention-grabbing cacophony? Not often. Sample the beauty in these lines from Nayyirah Waheed:

           can we speak in flowers

           it will be easier for me to understand.

                       — other language

At the same time, not all, in the ‘new wave of Insta poetry’, are capable of tenderness and mastery of words. It’s a trend with ‘#MeToo’ kind of poems, if at all they meet the condition of being called poems.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in the future in terms of poetry?

Poetry is epiphany. You are in constant motion where the topography changes with every step. You can harvest both fire and water without knowing which one will seep in your words. It’s a forest which moves, and with it you move. You can’t see anything while you are within it.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful event.

Thanks Haris, Kirbaa Karan for the wonderful images!

Quick Bite with Sharanya Manivannan

Sharanya Manivannan is the author of four books, including the award-winning short story collection, The High Priestess Never Marries and the newly-released poetry collection, The Altar of the Only World.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I wrote my first poem at 7 years old, and it was built around all the words I could think of that rhymed with “cat”.

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

I’ve written and read poetry for so much of my life it’s very much one of the modes through which I know myself. One of the greatest gifts poetry has given me has been consolation. At other times, it has been a way for me to salute beauty by trying to bring more into the world.

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

The problem begins with how poetry is taught in schools. Students should never be forced to memorise poems, or be force-fed “meanings” of poems. This is a cruel and meaningless method, both to people and to poetry itself. Teach the word through voice, teach it as love, teach it as a shield against loneliness. It is difficult to change people’s minds later in life, when they’ve been traumatised by the way poetry has been introduced to them as children.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

Whenever a poem calls to me. This can be day or night. I’ve bolted upright from my sleep many times because the words were suddenly pouring out of me. Other times, it’s less dramatic — a subtle shift aided and accompanied by music.

  1. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

In a lot of ways, Insta-poetry is a reaction to the horrible way poems are taught in schools. I like the accessibility of the medium, but I dislike how it encourages laziness, the need for constant validation, and a skewed relationship with one’s own work — it ceases to be craft if you’re counting likes.

  1. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

I’m trying to become better as a writer of fiction, and as an illustrator. I hope poetry forgives me these extramarital alliances.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for the wonderful events!

Thanks Haris for the amazing pictures!

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo bloggers and Prakriti foundation

Quick Bite with Ajinkya

Currently residing in Delhi, but born and brought up in Bombay, Ajinkya is co-founder of Wildfire, a tech/digital startup that creates core technologies for original content creators. He is a student and practitioner of dhrupad music, and is deeply interested in arts education. As an independent researcher (and IFA Grantee), he wrote a book (in publishing) on Learning with the Dagars. He finds solace in poetry; and is figuring out a way to balance his writing, music, and his work as an entrepreneur, and consultant. His work has been published in Gallerie. He is currently compiling his poems to publish his first anthology.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I think I wrote the first poem I wrote (that I can remember and still exists somewhere) for a  girl. In school. Possibly, the most filmy, and unintuitive thing to do at the time .

2.What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

For me writing is speaking. There is no  real, true communication. I see our multiplicitous, diverse life journeys as an attempt to fill the hole of the absurd and the incomprehensible with narrative and meaning. We strive to make others see as we see, feel as we feel, know as we know.

Only in the arts – in poetry, music, performance arts among others – do I feel that without explanation, without acknowledgement, without trying even, sometimes, an impulsive, almost natural connection is established. For me, poetry is a winding bridge that connects people. I like to learn people, learn spaces, learn what it means to feel and say the same things as those who walked this world thousands of years ago. I’m interested in our sameness and in our difference. Those who didn’t suffer the scourge of memory. Poetry and music – the arts and crafts – become the classroom, where we can all sit together – as naked as the first light of dawn

3.Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

Goethe said that one should “hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

This is, of course, spoken with the assumption of privilege of many kinds. As artists and enthusiasts, we have to question this privilege, and resist it’s oppressive and elitist gaze. This year Prakriti had a lovely selection of artists – an Ishvar Krishnan whose voice resonates with the labourer on the street to other well established poets whose truths are universal, poetry sublime.

The endeavour is always to find alternative spaces, create, as Hakim Bey would call it “art sabotage” or “poetic terrorism”. The purpose of poetry is to speak truth. Limiting it to elite spaces would only be counter productive. This becomes especially significant in the current political climate, where voices of dissent and resistance are being violently silenced. In such a situation then, poetry should become prophecy.

In street corners, public squares, classrooms, train stations, bus stops, the voices of artists must echo.

4.When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

I write when something builds up inside and overwhelms me in a deeply visceral way. So much so that I have to put pen to paper, or fingertip to smartscreen, or keyboard, otherwise it will kill me! The incompleteness, almost as if a peg is not fitting into a hole hurts – sometimes a word is meant to be in that exact place in the scheme of things, a note is destined to curve in a certain way. The urge of the artist becomes an obsessive one – to set things right almost

5.What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

Haha, I know where you’re going with this question. It’s a trap!

Yaar, each to her own. The frames of reference are changing. Popular opinion decides the fate of art. Social media has changed the meaning of popular opinion to loudest rant or most simplistic accusation. This is easy, but it’s not always wrong. But who are we to decide, what is and what isn’t poetry. Today even machines are writing poetry (😂) There are all kinds of art, but I relate to the kind that touches me. that takes the craft forward. I cannot expect everyone to relate in the same way.

In the end the time will decide, of course what remains, and what survives

6.Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

I want to explore the forms more. Create more equitable spaces where my work takes on a life of its own. I want to collaborate with other artists across the spectrum and create narratives that mean different things to different communities in society. Poetry spreads in tandem with music, visual art and theatre. I see these as different threads that form a beautiful pattern in the same patchwork tapestry. I want to stitch my work to this endeavour.

Thanks Prakriti Foundation for the wonderful event.

Thanks Smita Anand for the wonderful pictures!

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo Bloggers and Prakriti foundation

Quick Bite with Parvathi Nayar

Parvathi Nayar is a writer, poet and contemporary visual artist based in Chennai. Parvathi Nayar plays an active role – and is deeply committed to supporting – the emerging renaissance of the contemporary in Chennai. Parvathi is best known for her videos and her complex drawing practices; she also engages with text, sculpture, painting and photography. Her works have been collected by institutions such as the Singapore Art Museum, BMW, HCL, The Sotheby’s Art Institute, The Australia India Institute and Deutsche Bank.

   1. Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

I can’t honestly remember when I wrote my first poem, but I always did scribble bits and pieces. I so enjoy the process of writing – and rewriting!

  1. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

For me poetry offers a form that is at once succinct and yet intense and vivid  – it is a way to talk about the things that I am thinking about or experiencing.

  1. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

I wish it could have an audience outside a literary circle, just as I wish art could have a way of speaking to a larger group of people – as this is the stuff that speaks of the human condition.

  1. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

It can take place at different times of day – its whenever I can carve out the actual time and head space for it! I’m inspired by all kinds of things to write poems – but sometimes it is an exploration for me to actually “understand” something gnawing at me, if you know what I mean. In this regard one of the poems I read out at the session stands out –  an exact from Black And White, which was written as a way of conceptualizing a solo show of mine – Drawing is a Verb at the Arts House, Singapore. It stands out as a memory from the past as a device that had a specific resonance to understanding the spatial aspect in my art. Since then a lot of the verse has had relationships with the art.

Quick bites with Erik Lindner

Erik Lindner is a poet born in 1968 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He has published five books of poetry and the novel Naar Whitebridge (De Bezige Bij, 2013). His work has been translated into many languages and in France, Germany and Italy. He has read on numerous international festivals all over the world and was a poet in residence in Berlin (DAAD Artists-in- Berlin Program), Taipei, Montreal, Athens, Marseille and Paris.According to a critic the poems of Erik Lindner can intensify our patterns of perception and sharpen our senses for what is possible.

1.Can you say something about what made you write your first poem??

My first text were written in English and more than poems they were meant to be song verses, texts to sing. But I knew at the age of fifteen or so they weren’t any good, they were clichées. Than I wrote one line in Dutch: “De wereld is zojuist de trap afgelopen en sloeg zonder woorden de deur dicht.” This is maybe also not one of the best or very original lines, but it was different, it had a different sound, it was a little strange. What made me write it is that someone left and with that I knew things would change after.

2. What does poetry mean to you? What do you feel when writing poetry?

What it means? I don’t know. I have never had high ambitious to become a poet, it is just the one thing I did that I always kept doing, the thing that was the most closest to me. Expressing in words somehow was more urgent than through images or melodies, although melody and rhythm is important in my work, also in the process of becoming a poem, in carrying it to a result. I can have all sort of feelings when I am working on a poem, from joy to sadness, the important is that putting down words again after a phase of contemplating or humming certain words together, is always a liberation. So to write makes me happy, yes. It has more than emotions or inspiration to do with a certain concentration that remains always rare. I cannot always be in that concentration, often have to wait until it is there.

3. Do you think poetry speaks to all kinds of people in all walks of life? How do you think we can take poetry out its confined literary circle?

No, poetry doesn’t speak to all kinds of people and indeed also not in all walks in life, if walks are meant to be different situations and circumstances. It could speak to more of them than they think, and also more often, but I have lost the evangelical approach that one would need to convince people poetry is good for them, if they don’t like it, let them do something else. But then again it is very necessary indeed to escape the literary circle, to survive as a poet, to learn from other people, to show it to other people than specialists. When I started in the 1980’s, I worked with musicians and we had poetry readings in youth clubs, alternative or squated theaters. That had quite a following, I could live from that in 1986 at the age of 18. These were audience that hardly read literature. But when my work grew and became less theatrical and more condensed and I was going towards my first official book in 1996, I depended on the inner circle of editors, publishers, specialists. Still, traveling is important, meeting new people, seeing how different poetry is in every culture in the world. And another example, I work with a very good art photographer Stephan Keppel and at openings of his exhibitions he asks me to read some poems. And his audience is not used to poetry readings, they take my words as images without frames around the picture. I like that escape of the inner circle very much.

4. When do you write poetry? Is there a specific time in a day? What makes you write a poem?

I used to write in the late evening or early evening, but that robs one from having a social life. April 2000 I wrote my first poem waking up in the morning with a cup of coffee next to me. I remember quite well the sensation of concentration it gave. Of course, one must be good awake and not sleepy. What makes me write a poem can be many occasion, just as a poem can be theoretically about everything. But not every line can be in a poem, they must be the right lines on that specific moment. I am building up to it every time, making notes, walking around, trying to see carefully the details. And very prosaic: a deadline helps.

5. What do you think of this new wave of insta poetry of today? Would you treat it as poetry too?

I haven’t study it, I must say. It will interest me when a good poem comes out of it. I am not against using new media, that is only good. I have also collaborated on two video poems*. But a lot of these waves are temporary, somehow everyone always gets back to paper, even if other medium are at times more practical to carry.

6. Where do you want to take your work in d future in terms of poetry?

Basically everywhere. I like to go back to places I have been before, create a deeper bound with them. I need to travel more in Asia, Africa and America. But than again, even with how much I was lucky to travel with poetry since 1988, I still need more decent English translations. I have books published in German, Italian and French and that felt as an enrichment coming from a small country.  But a future poetry book in English will take my work a bit easier to readers than before.

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organising wonderful events.

Thanks Kirbaa Karan and charles for the pictures.

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo bloggers and Prakriti foundations.

Songs of the Heart – A celebration of love, poetry and music

What happens when two cultures meet?

Some would paint a picture of conflict. But poets and musicians would beg to differ.

To them, the coming together of two cultures is a chance for dialogue, a chance to explore, experiment and reinvent. It’s a chance to create something beautiful to enchant hearts on both sides. And what better way to do that than by exploring each culture’s take on love?

Performing at the Alliance Française of Madras, AKADÊMIA – a renowned French music ensemble – teamed up with Indian artists to perform ‘Songs of the Heart’: a celebration of love through a dialogue between western Renaissance music and the works of Indian classical poets.

Beginning with a joyful choral musical piece, the evening came alive to a series of musical pieces accompanied by classical Indian poems on love.

A dialogue in truth, the performance treated the audience to a conversation between renaissance music as performed by the ensemble and the poems narrated. Throughout this dialogue, each side ‘spoke’ in turn – the musicians through their music, and the narrators through the words of the poems they recited.

Reciting a Yaksha’s loving, longing-filled description of his lover in Kalidasa’s Meghadhuta, Meera Bai’s words in devotion to her Lord Krishna, and other works and passages on longing and desire, the narrators offered the audience a glimpse into various aspects of love. A glimpse that was expanded upon by the musicians, who, under the graceful guidance of Françoise Lasserre, put into melody what words alone could not express.

What set ‘Songs of the Heart’ apart from any other musical performance or poetry reading was not the music or the poems alone. It was the way in which the poems and the musical pieces complemented each other. As the subject of each poem changed, so did the tone of the music, to either match the words and sentiments of the poem, or play a counterpoint to them.

Together, the music and poetry took the audience on a journey from the initial spark of desire and joy to the bittersweet moments of longing, and the deep sorrow of loss. A journey that culminated in poetic commentary on the fleeting nature of life, and the futility and foolishness of clinging to past sorrows. With verses urging the protagonists to let go of their sadness, the performers concluded this journey at the inevitable, final moment of letting go and moving on. A moment of rediscovery of joy, that powered the penultimate musical piece of the night.

After an hour and a half of musical dialogue, this enchanting evening came to an end with a soft musical piece by AKADÊMIA. A fitting, musical end to a magical performance and the tenth edition of Poetry with Prakriti Festival .

Thanks Prakriti foundation for organizing such amazing event.

Thanks to Akash Kapur for the wonderful write up. Thanks to Gopinath & Haris Manian for the Pictures.

All images are copy right protected to Madras Photo Bloggers and Prakriti Foundations.

Enthralling Navarathri Festival in Chennai | Photo Story

In the north, the beautiful people sway their hips to the dance of Garba and depict the life of Rama as Ramlila.
In the east,the devotees submerge the statue of Ma Durga in the river which is followed by a tearful farewell to send her off.In the west,the leaves of the aapta tree are exchanged which is considered auspicious.And then comes our place,the south.where the entire celebration takes place for 9 days called Navarathri by building a rack of odd-numbered shelves or padi set up using wooden planks. After the golu is covered with fabric it is then adorned with various dolls, figurines and toys according to their size, with the deities at the top.Even golu dolls have evolved these days so much that we have dolls of ganesh ji checking his phone and trains going around the golu padi.

But in the authentic way, golu used to depict the court scenes of the olden days,the day to day happenings of the Pandits and many more.Even tough that authentic touch is lost in many places there are some places where they are still kept in check.And one such beautiful place is Mylapore. I stroll through the north mada street in the morning as bhanjans fill the street and smell of the still moist sand fill my nostrils.The entire surrounding is busy as people continue purchasing golu dolls throughout the day.

I see many new and different dolls. Dolls moving their head on their own, ganesh ji poising his sense of calmness, Rama and lakshmana ready for their vana yaatra and so many more dolls depicting the old Indian myths.
The temples are a view to behold as people fled in and out to adorn this beautiful kolu.

Then comes my favourite part, the Sundal. It is kept in front of the kolu and prayed for the well being of all and it is served as prasad .With spicy chillies and small mustards it sure does add flavour to the festive season of vijayadashami. Kolu not only form a part of house but it’s seen in colleges and schools where teachers and students together enjoy this joyous moment. The series of pictures depict the mood of festival.
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An article by Jaya Roshini and Photographs by Srivatsan Sankaran and Pavithraa Swaminathan

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

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

Therukoothu- The magic of Native dying folk art | Chennai, Tamilnadu

Not only species of animal diminishing from the face of earth, form of native folk art too. Therukoothu is a folk theatre art performed in the open space during temple festivals and effective make up, music play significant role in the performance. The art of Therukoothu handed down from one generation to another generation. They travel as a troupe that includes the actors, dancers, musicians, makeup artist, cooks and sometimes family. They are always on the move from one village to another village.

The troupe named “Ananda Muruga Sabha” from Pudupet village performed the show near Ekkattuthangal on Aug 29th, 2016. They set up their show near Amman temple which is surrounded by IT corridors and it caught the attention of huge crowd since it was rare to notice them inside the city. Their performance depicted the story of “Gangai Amman Puranam”.The dress of artists are a complex a lot – Wide colorful skirts , sparkling shoulder plates , wide dress and of course thick heavy self-make up.

Generally Koothu is performed mostly late at the night after 10 PM.No chair would be provided except for the dignitaries. The public are at liberty to stand, sit, recline in which they wish to see the play.

If you are looking for future updates about Therukoothu, you can connect with them through facebook profile

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All the pictures in this post are copyrighted. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval.

An article and photographs by Srivatsan Sankaran.