Tag 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 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 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.

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.

A chat with the Grand old poet of India : Shri Jayanta Mahapatra

A heartwarming Poem reading by a self-actualized soul and a grand old Indian poet Shri Jayanta Mahapatra. He is the first ever Indian poet to win Sahitya Akademi award for English poetry. He is also a winner of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour in India. He is physicist by education and commenced writing poems at the age of 40. He has spent his entire life time in Cuttack, Odisha and all his poems revolves around his own land.

Our team had an opportunity to listen to his poem reading and interview the living legend during the part of Poetry with Prakriti, Festival 2017 – 10th Edition. All his poems revolve around facts of life. During our interaction with him he also shared his childhood memories, where he had run away from his home town twice. There were few questions put to him and beautiful answers from him.

The poet says anyone can write poem, quotes himself as a humble example “when a 90-year-old man like me can write poems, anyone can write”

When asked, what makes him write poems, he beautifully said that he don’t choose poems. Situations make him write poems. He said “I write What I feel, What I hear and What I see”.

Also, he added that the poems written by him are his experiences. The Poetry has taught him to love people they are!

He wrote his first poem at the age of 40. When asked, what made him to write his first poem, he said that sadness prevailing around him, made him write his first poem. Most of his poems revolves around grief experience.

As the awareness about literature and culture increasing amongst people, we inquired whether poems create impact in society. The strongly denied that Nobody cares about the poems and it doesn’t create any effect in modern society. He feels that only few readers and youngsters read poems and get influenced by it. He believes people are very selfish and egoistic. They are self-centered and busy with their own priorities in their life.

The poet began his career as a physicist. When provided an option to choose between a poem or physics, he said did not want to choose between them and said that they were like two eyes for him. He funnily said that he loves high level physics and poems because people cannot assimilate the essence of both swiftly.

Since alternate career professions are becoming popular this year, we are keen to know the poets view on new age poems. He told that, it has not taken a serious traction. He added that those poems are not really from inside a person, rather a quick outburst of expression, after reading a couple of poems from the internet by the current generation.

Lot of youngster turned out for the poetry festival. When asked about message to the young poets he said “Read a lot poems, it will inspire you to write more”.

A lifetime experience and moment which shall always be cherished, interviewing Shri Jayanta Mahapatra. Thanks to Prakriti foundation and Madras Photobloggers.

Venkat Suriyaprakash.

Thanks Haris Manian for the wonderful pictures.

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

The Pen’s Allurement – Poorna Swami

The crowd gathered was already traveling in a world of magical dream and Once Poorna Swami began her recital, the transformation of thoughts unveiled the senses. Clad in a white Saree, peaceful as a dove with a charismatic smile Ms Poorna had the ability to indulge every listener and guide them deep into the jungles of solitude.

Born in Bangalore Ms Poorna started writing poems from the age of six. During her childhood days poems were a collection of words that came to her mind framed to stanzas. Being a quite child, she developed a love towards the language by reading a lot of books and this paved the way to be a poet and express her interest in the language. Graduating from Mount Holyoke College she did a research study on African Studies Review focussing on Transnational Literature.

In her recent series of five Poems, “Poems in Saffron Ink” Ms Poorna condemned the current political situation in India and gave life to slain victims through her words. “The hymn of sword and gunfire” – Scintillating and yet a verse with melancholy, Ms Poorna combines the cold and calm entities to emote the characters of her poem.

“One doesn’t have to be a professional in literature to write poems”. she says, crediting to various malayalam poetry in social media which are being written by everyone with the knowledge in language and no exposure in the advanced literary world. Ms Poorna’s poems have a strong story behind and there is a lot of research behind every composition. Most of her works have a political touch voicing out the struggles and anguish of a common man. General Elections India. 2014, Prayer for Dadri 2015 and Assimilation are few of her poems that had the spark to revolutionize. Among her works she refers to Etymology as her favourite. A love poem written without punctuations it relieved her from the heart when written, says Poorna. Being an avid reader right from childhood Ms Poorna’s all-time favourite is Jack Gilbert’s “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart”.

Apart from Poetry, Ms Poorna has also been dancing from the age of six. Also Graduated in Dance from Mount Holyoke College, she feels that dance helps to express what poetry cannot. Over the last few years she has been dancing for her own poetry and also performing for theatre events across the world.

Thanks Pakriti foundation for organizing such beautiful event in Chennai

Thanks Sai Karthik for the wonderful article.  All images are taken Kirbaa Karan and Haris Manian.

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

MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship 2017 – Round 3 (Aug 4, 2017)

  • Bikers revving up for another round of hot action
  • Keen battles in offing for top spots

Chennai, August 3: The battle lines will be drawn afresh this weekend when the third round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship 2017 commences on Friday at the MMRT track in Sriperumbudur, near here with hectic jostling for leaderboard positions in all the categories.

As many as 19 races are scheduled to be run over three days after Thursday’s practice sessions besides the second round of the MMSC fmsci Indian National Drag Racing Championship which will be held on Saturday (practice) and Sunday evening (final runs).

The spotlight will be yet again on the intense rivalry between Honda Ten10 Racing and TVS Racing riders in the showpiece Super Sport Indian (up to 165cc) class while the path-breaking National championship for girls (Stock, up to 165cc), an MMSC initiative and introduced this season, has thrown up its share of exciting competition with Bengaluru’s Aishwarya Pissay (40 points) of Apex Racing heading the leaderboard from Team Speed Up Racing riders Kalyani Potekar (36) from Madhya Pradesh and Chennai’s Ryhana Bee (35).

Likewise, the Stock (up to 165cc) class for Novice riders has proved to be a resounding success with 50-plus entries requiring two preliminary heats to decide the grid for the point-scoring final race.

In the other two categories of National championship, 21-year old Amarnath Menon (Gusto Racing) from Kozhikode has dominated the Super Sport Indian 300-400cc class winning all four races so far while Mithun Kumar of Honda Ten10 Racing is comfortably perched at the top in the Pro-Stock (up to 165cc) following three wins in four outings.

Country’s top two-wheeler manufacturers Honda and TVS have also weighed in with their highly competitive One-Make Championship in the Open and Novice categories besides support races exclusively for girls who are thus guaranteed plenty of track time over the weekend.

In the two rounds of the National Championship thus far, 18-year old Rajiv Sethu (Honda Ten10 Racing) from Chennai has caused a big buzz with his dominating performances marked by three wins which put him ahead in the Super Sport Indian (up to 165cc) class with 75 points, just ahead of team-mate Mathana Kumar (66), and will be looking to consolidate his position.

Defending champion Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) has not had the best of starts this season with just one win and 37 points to show for his efforts to be placed fifth behind team-mates KY Ahamed (45) and Harry Sylvester (39).

Courtesy: AP Media Communications

Photo Credits: Srinivasa Krishnan

The Festivals of Madras | Photo Series

Alike the national festivals – Independance day and republic day and religious festivals – Diwali, Holi, Navaratri Eid, Muhurram and Christmas etc ,.A large number of festivals and Fairs are celebrated in madras throughout the year.Also, Chennaities celebrate local festivals like Panguni Urstavam, Ther , Thai Pongal, Music and Dance Festival with great fervor in Chennai city. Below photos represent the various scenes of local festials and backstages. Thank you participants for submitting amazing photos for the festival theme.

Credits : Raghav Prasanna

Credits : Deepak Sundar

Credits :  Kirbaa Karan

Credits :  Lakshmi Ramanan

Credits :  Mukhil

Credits :  Prabhakar Ramakrishnan

Credits :  Ramesh Raja

 

Credits :  Sanath Kumar

Credits :  Shamini Shammu

Credits : Siva Prasad

Credits : Siva Prasad

GRANDEUR OF PARTHASARATHY THEER (CAR) FESTIVAL BY LAKSHMI RAMANAN

Madras Photo Bloggers is featuring  *Story Inspired by the Theer festival* article  by   Lakshmi Ramanan

◊ – words with the mark are explained below the images

Idly◊ was whistling away in the kitchen. The aroma of sambhar◊ wafted throughout the house. Filter kaapi◊ was the befitting beverage for that morning. Big golden silk borders adorned the mamas◊ and mamis◊ of the house alike, simplicity was reserved for another day. Tiny tots who were adorned with Srichoornam◊ ran in as time tickers, giving constant updates. All cousins had gathered under their grandfather’s house, it was ‘thaerottam’ or the car festival which was taking place in Triplicane◊ Parthasarathy temple.

“Keshavaa!”voice called out “Come here”

“Keshav Chittappaa◊! Thata◊ is calling you!” the little messenger screamed at the top of his voice as he rushed across the house

“Thata?” A deep voice responded briskly “Tell me”

“Keshu. Can we leave?” He said pulling his walking stick

“Thata! You have tied the panchakacham◊ very well” he said, “you are as always splendid young man” reaching his hand out to the Septuagenarian. He was someone whom you just have to respect, he commanded that out of people.  His grandfather was beaming with pride as the entire family of the old couple, his four sons and four daughters and the next two generations made their way through the crowd.

They went all the way near the thaer, and prostrated in front of the Lord. It was grandeur all around, The decoration around the Thaer was a league apart. The pagoda like top had cloth draped with srichoornam. Dwarakabalaka◊, Yali◊, and horses surrounded the Lord, while few men also made their way up. Among them were the pandits,◊ nadaswaram◊ and mirdamgam◊ players, playing exclusively to entertain the Lord. The lower half had many idols of the Lord was intricately carved in. The entire structure was supported by large wheels, taller than an average standing man. Streets had a festive look, they were washed clean, with large kolams◊ decorating every inch of tar road. It was a sight to behold. Keshav however looked around nonchalantly.

The procession started with the hymns being recited by the panchakacham clad pandits. Everyone prostrated before them marking their respects. Following them were fleets of photographers weaving in and out of the crowd. The finally chains of people aligned themselves clinging on to the chains dragging the thear. Behind the scenes was always something that was missed. A rod will give a tug to push the Thaer, three men will climb upon one wheel and pressure them to propel the thaer forward. It was undeniably focused team effort. To conclude it all would be a yet group of pandits who recited the vedas.

Keshav stared at the whole scene, his face was expressionless. “Grandeur – but why? Did the God ask for all this? If he is prevalent in everything, this is all meaningless. There is no peace in doing these, they distract us from praying” His troubled mind was never put to a rest. These thoughts kept coming back to him throughout the procession.

***

As the night fell over the tired streets, grandfather’s mind was fixating on Keshav and his disturbed . He went over to engage him in a conversation. “Does Perumal need this grandeur? He has everything doesn’t he? Same case at Tirumala◊. Did the Lord ask for these?” Keshav spoke fast, unable to hold the questions with himself any longer.  Thata took a deep breathe, I’m happy that you are asking the right questions. Thoughtful indeed. Kesu, these do not concern the Lord the least is the fact.”

Keshav opened his mouth, his grandfather held up his hand to silence him and continued

“With that said, why do we have these elaborate ceremonies? These ceremonies help us tune the mind, in fact so much of sastram◊ is to tune the mind. Why do we need to tune the mind should be your next question. Mind gives yo u ultimate control over the self, a great man is one who mastered the mind. To get there we can choose from the nine forms of devotion, Do know them?”

“Oh yes Thata! Listening, chanting, singing, archana◊, prayer, then like deva dasis◊, thinking Lord to be a friend, serving his feet and finally self-surrender. I remember them, but how do these help?”

“Devotion compels you to involve yourself. The drums, the beats, the agarbathhis◊, the abhisheka◊, the alankara◊, the slokas◊, the ithiasas, the puranas are the varied triggers for the different minds. Once they involve themselves into devotion it helps to spread positivity. Stay with me, “he paused , “The arrangement today, Hymns were sung even before the procession would start, leading the crowd through and through. While they dragged the car, they were shouting Govinda◊ Govinda and finally, vedas◊ were recited by a another group of pandits. These calm the atmosphere, spreading the positive vibe. That vibe can be felt when you visit a temple, when you stand in the pooja room, that calming vibe is set afloat. It is harnessing that positivity. Positive affirmation, harnessing that cosmic energy, and to be there one must be satisfied. Their wounds should have healed and they must believe in a greater source of power to keep them grounded.

As for grandeur – Rest assured God never asked for this sort of celebrations, we human would have would have come up with it to break the monotony of life, thus taking care of battling the stress factor. Then to admire the work of artists, what more does the artist want than appreciation and respect. Carpenters, Kolam artists, Painters, Dancers, Musicians, Bhajan Goshtis◊, cooks, the list is endless. This makes people happy, accepted and respected in that society. Society becomes a well-rounded one, people with diverse occupations well rewarded.”

Singing Hymns – A form of Devotion

A Classic Iyyangar style kolam and the view of the forerunners of the procession

A Classic Iyyangar style kolam and the view of the forerunners of the procession

Among the wave of pandits

Intricate carvings on the ratha / Car

Idly it is a south indian breakfast prepared from soaked rice and later steamed

Sambhar is side dish for Idly and other breakfast items; it is tamrind dal gravy with vegetables

Filter Kaapi – Coffee brewed with water forced through grounded beans; favourite beverage of many in Tamilnadu

Mama – A respectable way of calling male, usually who is older than oneself in TamBrahm household

Mami – A respectable way of calling female, usually who is older than oneself in TamBrahm household

Srichoornam – The three lines appearing on the forehead of Shri Maha Vishnu devotees

Triplicane – A locality in Chennai which has the ancient Temple dedicated to Shri Maha Vishnu

Chittappa – Tamil way of addressing Father’s brother or Mother’s sister’s Husband

Thata – Tamil way of addressing one’s Grandfather

Panchakacham – Dothi wrapping style which is usually around 8 meters long

Dwarabalaka – guards who guard the doorway to God

Yali is a mythical animal with a body of a lion but with a trunk of elephant

Pandits are those who are knowledgeable

Nadaswaram is an wind instrument with a long tube like structure with a wide flat base opening

Mirudhangam is a percussion instrument

Kolams are decorations that is drawn in front of the house to decorate entrance. It is geometically complex and is drawn with rice powder

Tirumala – Famous temple at Tirupathi

Sastram – The ideal way of life stipulated by ancient people

Agarbathis – Incense stick

Abhisheka is process of bathing the idol at temple

Alankara means dressing up and in this case refers to dressing up of the deity at the temple

Sloka is prayer

Itihasas are stories as told by forefathers of Hindu religion

Puranas are ancient stories, refers to epics which is Ramayana and Mahabharatha

Govinda – Another name for Lord Maha Vishnu

Veda is the holy scriputures of Hindus

Bhajan Ghostis are those people who sign songs about the Lord

Thanks Lakshmi Ramanan for the wonderful story and pictures. All images and content are copy right protected.

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.

Art Exhibition

Art Exhibition by Chennai Weekend Artist | Lalit Kala Academy, Chennai

Chennai Weekend Artists- A group of artists of varying Caliber, ages and styles who select a spot every weekend, and gather to sketch on that location anywhere around chennai. Their love for art and also enjoying that process of creation has what drawn these people together every week.

MuralidharAlagar, the co- founder of CWA says “Together we draw, share tips and skills , find mutual inspiration. We believe that every single drawing done by everyone is unique and special since we welcome all kind of free style. Some members are skilled in oil painting, some scribble with charcoal and few end with pen and Ink. They regularly post the sketch in Facebook to get feedback and improve themselves.

In order to pursue further, they have launched Art exhibition on Madras day which has caught the attention of people across the city. He says “Around 52 participants have attended this exhibition and we have divided it into two segments. First segment represents arts about the localities of Chennai and s second one is theme based arts which depict their own style, imagination and thoughts”

Moreover, a lot of artist talk shows are lined up on the coming weekend and these interaction sessions will help them pursue their skill. Famous artists such as Manohar and Mark Ratnaraj will be visiting the exhibition on 27th August at 10:30 AM and Elango will give a visit on Sunday Morning 10:30 AM.

Exhibition timing – 11 AM to 7:00 PM
Last day of Exhibition – 28th- Aug -2016
Location : Lalit Kala Academy , Chennai
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An article by Srivatsan Sankaran and Edited by Pavithra Swaminathan

Karthik Arvind Kumar

15 minutes Interview with Karthik Arvind Kumar, the young art Illustrator

Open your eye, widen your knowledge and calm your body to understand an art

And,  Open your mind, enhance your soul and brighten the spark to be an artist.  Only a great prodigy can understand the magical extract of art but it takes a legend to do art.

Professional and high class life schedules of an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer can never beat the adventurous and easy going life schedules of an artist.

The whole of madras photo bloggers team realize what great effort it takes to specialize in art and what more of effort it requires to be an artist by profession in a country where science and commerce are the two available streams.

It was such a privilege to meet, greet and have a small talk with one such inspiring  Chennai based artist, Karthik Arvind Kumar.

Who would describe his interview an eye opener when it was a heart opener?

1)From when have you been drawing? Is there any specific incident where you realized that you indeed draw well?

“Professionally, I have been drawing since December.  I draw from my 9th or 10th grade.

I was a good scoring student in my 10th. I badly wanted to go the USA to do my masters, and my family members put a simple rule to clear in all exams and go abroad with a scholarship. So, I really studied hard for the 4 years and got 9.00 gp in my exams overall. Atlast I went to the USA to later on realize I have no interest in science. My brother and his wife gifted me a micron pen and an art pad in which I started drawing. I took It to all places with me. I started my own profile in facebook and instagram and developed.”, says Karthik, the artist

2) What kind of drawing is your favorite?

“My favorite kind of art is doodling. Everyone has a different story and each one is talented in different kinds of art. My fav is doodling and I do well in portraits”, he says.

3)Being any kind of artist in India and being accepted by society and own family is a Himalayan task. Did your family support you when u decided to take illustration as a profession especially after being graduated as an automobile engineer?

“My parents always support me. It’s really difficult satisfying and impressing my brother. My mom’s the one who gives constant encouragement and professional advice regarding my job and my dad gives me non-artistic advice. But, when I told them that I’m going to take illustration as my profession,primarily, everyone lost their minds. My sister in law was the first one who told me to do whatever I wanted to do and she spoke to my family about it. So, whenever I wanted to start something new I always approached my sister in law who spoke to my brother who in turn spoke to my parents. My parents will be really satisfied if my brother speaks.

But my dad gave a clear warning that I will either be a total success or total failure. I was so sure and clear when I took up this as my profession.” , he says with a chuckle and a sigh.

4) Were there any regrets for art as profession or as passion?

“There are absolutely no regrets. Right from when I was a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist. There was one moment in my life when I sat on the flight from Chicago to India, staring outside, when I thought whether I’ll ever have regrets. Because I clearly know once started there’s no turning back. But, I decided I’ll never be having any in the future also.”, he says. Sir, that’s enough of Goosebumps for a sleepless nights.

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5) How much of your life do you owe to drawing?

“I owe my entire life to drawing and to art”, he say’s quickly without a second thought.

6) I went through all your work which u have published in facebook. And I must say I loved the harry potter doodle. Did u go to any class or take any course to improve your skills or was it just mere interest?

“Quentin Tarantino, the director said that he never went to film schools but he went to films. Like that I truly believe one only needs pure passion and interest to achieve their aims. I didn’t require classes, I just kept drawing and drawing until I excelled in it.”, he tells which could inspire so many people who can’t afford to carry on their course for their career.

7) What would u like to tell all the artists out there?

“All I would like to say is that: find your passion and pursue it. I regret wasting my time doing my engineering course and wasting my parent’s money. Rather, I should have just joined in some arts college.Just do whatever u like from the beginning.”, he says and ends it in style.

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Cheers and best of luck to Karthik Arvind Kumar , from team Madras Photo Bloggers.

If you like to connect with Karthik in facebook , please click here

For more of his work , please Check out his facebook page 

Interview by Jaya Roshini and edited by Srivatsan Sankaran

Photos by Kirbaakaran

Safest Metros

CHENNAI RANKS SECOND, IN THE LIST OF THE SAFEST METROS IN INDIA

Chennai ranks as the 113th safest place in the world, in a global survey, which was conducted recently, among other international cities in the world. And currently, it is considered to have one the safest metros rails in India ranking as number 2 as against Mumbai which ranks first in this order. This in turn brings to light the various facets of the metro rail which makes it safe compared to the others in the country.

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From a generic view, Chennai is emerging to be one of the cities of choice because of its relatively lower crime rate, less pollution and better education standards. Now with the Metro Rail in tow, the city has climbed one step further in providing quality life to its people.

The first phase of the multi-crore Metro Rail was flagged off by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and was opened to the public on Monday, 29th June 2015. And the eye catcher here is that, it was steered by a young woman, a 28-year-old diploma holder in engineering from Government Dharmambal Polytechnic College in Chennai. Now this became instant news since she was one of the first women to man a metro rail in Chennai. This speaks with great regards to the open mindset of the people of Chennai.

“Chennai has the right mix of conservative and modern mindset, making it one of the safest metros. Also they are more civic minded when compared with other metro cities in the country” says Kishor, a citizen of Chennai who has resided in other metros in the country.

Looking at it on a deeper level, one can easily note that none of the metros in Chennai are crowded. This stands as a glaring difference when compared to the flooded suburbs of Kolkata and Mumbai. Many cite the cost of the travel as a significant factor for this, since on a comparative level, the fares are at the higher end. And compared with other means of public transport, Metro Rail fares are mighty costlier. This makes it safe for traveling especially when one is looking for the comfort of ride etc.

Also when one chances a look into the control room panels of the metro rails, you shall note that they work day and night in shifts without missing a beat. And the trains stand out with strict adherence to timings making sure that the passengers are not made to wait unduly hours in order to board their trains.

And just like an airport terminal, the entire place is covered in cctv surveillance cameras which are manned by security personnel 24*7 throughout the weeks.

So far, the metro rail project has materialized in certain parts of the city alone but the response is really good. Barring higher costs, this accounts for a safe travel to the destination without any constraints.

As Meera, a regular commuter in the Chennai metro says “A hassle free secure ride, a girl could possibly ask for! We could board easily and the compartments were spacey and comfortable due to lesser crowds.  And with additional security, this deserves to be given the tag of a safe metro”.

Photo Courtesy – Focal Frames Photography

madras

Namma Madras

Let’s begin with

” Hey macha ! Chennai is a name, But Madras is an emotion”

This place holds a mega emotional aspect for many people. Well one can argue with the flaws, but which and what creation of God doesn’t have a flaw. So why don’t we just stick to the part ” Why we love-u Madras”.
Let’s begin with our language, Tamil, one of THE oldest. Such knowledge *lifts collar*.
Coming to our Madras slang, we could be a little intimidating with our slang and words but we are just the best at heart.
Once you set foot in Madras, have you seen anymore friendly people? Maybe. Everyone is ready to help. Trust me, some people make you feel home with their gestures and smiles, some things that people do for you here will flood your heart with such warmth that your soul will fell at ease. Even though we don’t understand your language we madras-late it and will help you way better than Google maps.
Not all the cities you visit in your life will get marked “Special” in your memory, but Madras will definitely top it.
Yes, we are gloating, but wait, have you not seen?

Madras is one of those cities in India whose lifestyle is very passive. One of the best reason to take pride being Madrasi’s are that we are simple and civic. Many of our businessmen, our people in distinguished designations are humble and some of them can be seen using public transport unlike many other places.
Madras has given birth to many explicable talents, and we welcome people from all over the world to be a part of us. Not just tradition, culture and heritage, Madras has also been a place which has given rise to powerful leaders and world class achievers like Vishwanath Anand, Ilaiyaraja, Rajinikanth, AR Rahman, Sundar Pichai and many more.
We house many significant places in the history and also famous educational institutions, zoos, bridges and many more.
Our food. Imagine waking up to the smell of freshly made filter coffee, for breakfast you are made to indulge in ghee soaked crispy dosai with piping hot sambar, fragrant coconut chutney with curry leaves & mustard, with a touch of tangy tomato chutney.
Then moving onto a wide spread “Elai Saapadu” ( banana leaf) where rice is served with a range of sides and applam (papad). Then to finish it off with beeda pan.
Wait it’s not over, for the dinner, 14 pieces of small idly soaked in sambar and brushed with ghee on top with a crispy hot vadai.
Well then what are you waiting for, Madras awaits you. Visit us and go back with fantastic, unforgettable experiences.