Tag Archives: CULTURE

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.