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Archive for February, 2008

Chennai is now a favoured destination

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Chennai becomes a very special city for tourists and locals during the months of November, December, and January. A fusion [ called Sangamum in Tamil] happens. There is music in the air, Carnatic songs and clasical keerthanas are sung by exponents in concert halls accompanied by instrumental musicians on violin, Mirdangam and Ganjira. Dance presentations such as Bharat Natyam, Kutchupudi, and Odessy take place. So do drama and theatre festivals, craft, art expositions, book exhibitions, Pongal festival , magic shows and circus shows. You name it, its all there, reflecting our culture and heritage. The mild weather prevailing during these months encourage our participation and involvement.

These are special months for the deeply religious. The Tamil months of Kathigai and Margazhi are considered very auspicious. Devotees of Muruga and Ayyappa undertake their Padayathra trip to the hills after the austerity days. The fronts of houses are decorated with Ramgoli and lamps. Sisters pray for the welfare of their brothers and brothers in turn give presents and gifts!

The state sponsored Trade and Tourism fair takes place in the city with stalls of departments, industries, traders and special organizations. In addition there are eateries, fun games, special promotions of furniture, household and electrical items such as air-conditioners, TVs and cars all in the comfort of the trade centre. Expositions of exclusive handicraft items, village artisan’s products, clay products, leather and brass wares can also be found on show!

We have heard of the Dubai and Singapore shopping festivals and now we have a Chennai shopping festival too. During the last week of December and first week of January most of the department stores come out with unbelievable discount offers for all products of home use. It’s a great shopping phase for all middle class people and many save up during the year to avail these offers! They share information with friends and it is a fun time, a happy phase for all, as new products come home much to the merriment of all concerned. It is also a two sided coin as the benefit goes both to buyers and sellers.

Pongal is the harvest festival which is celebrated with prayers and thanksgiving to the Sun. This is followed by thanksgiving to the bulls and cows (our farmer’s friends). These are big annual events in the villages and smaller towns of Tamil Nadu.

We also have an annual cultural event conducted by students of IIT called Sarang. Music performances [Indian and western], dance shows, clay modeling, crosswords and plate painting are some of the events. Then there is the Mega Book Exhibition with over 150 stalls displaying the latest and most famous books in the market.

The annual conference of Theosophists is conducted in spacious premises in Adyar. Delegates come world over for the conference, discussions, groups and meetings. The Festival of Kalashetra gets underway with wonderful dance dramas and music performances, beautifully presented in open air and indoor auditoriums. We also have the Chennai Sangamam Shows wherein artists from rural South India come in groups to present at various events. These are a fascinating reflection of village arts, dances, music on drums and is a state promoted project to revive and help village artisans.

We get the opportunity to hear the lectures of well known speakers like Swami Dyanandha, Swami Boomanandha, Swami Paramarthananda, Nochur Venkatramanji, Swami Sudhananda and others. Specific chapters of the Bhagavad Gita are taken up for weeks of presentations in auditoriums. Each day’s session would be a maximum of two hours, and each are very useful teachings and rare opportunities to correct our living styles and attitudes.

In addition to all this many special events take place such as the Heritage Walks. Groups of people are taken around the historic places of Chennai escorted by a guide. Places to be seen include forts, palaces, ancient churches, temples, museums and Adyar Creek. There are tree walks in the Guindy National Park for schools students. Then there is the turtle walk which takes place on full moon days along the coast during the egg laying season, which all age groups participate in.

Rarely does one get such opportunities to witness as many events in three months! Chennai is very popular and is catching the eye of everyone in India as well as people from overseas. The festival has evolved and is run by local people for the benefit of everyone! This trend is likely to continue in the coming years on a much bigger scale and will invite tourist groups from all over to come to India and Chennai.

Written by Raghuraman

February 10th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Indian Culture

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