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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2784

Fortnight-long Madras founding day being celebrated

[caption id="attachment_4236" align="alignright" width="460" caption="A view of the Central Railway Station as it looked in the 1920s. Photo: Hindu photo archives"]A view of the Central Railway Station as it looked in the 1920s. Photo: Hindu photo archives[/caption]

By Gopal Ethiraj, Chennai

Chennai, 17 August (Asiantribune.com): The seventh edition of the founding day of the city is being celebrated as ‘Madras Week’. It commenced on Sunday in all grandeur with about 100 programmes lined up in various parts of the city and it will go on for fortnight with a wider range of events.

The idea of celebrating the founding day of the city (August 22, 1639), shaped six years ago and began as a week-long celebration from August 16 to 23. This year the festival would be for two weeks, although it is called ‘Madras Week’, as more organizations and corporates have jumped in to hold one programme or the other.

The celebrations will end on September 1, according to the organizers who have roped in more organization/individuals and volunteer groups to make the event a gala affair.

‘Madras Day’ was an idea that three people put together -- the city's famed historian, S. Muthiah, journalist Sashi Nair and editor-publisher Vincent D' Souza. Today, they have been joined by three others -- senior journalist and editor Sushila Ravindranath, entrepreneur and writer-historian V. Sriram and journalist and web site entrepreneur, Revathi

Historian S. Muthiah said the prime objective of the celebrations is to spread heritage awareness, particularly in schools and colleges. And one of the significant features this year would be the participation of nearly 70 schools and 12 colleges, the major being Llyola, Vivekananda, Madras Christian College, MOP Vaishnav, Queen Maris, etc.

Several government departments, such as Archaeological Survey of India and Government Museum, are also hosting events. Some of the organizations that have joined in this year’s Madras Week celebrations include Alliance Francaise and Russian Cultural Centre. The others are the US Consulate General, the Madras Photographic Society, and the Prince of Arcot.

Wikipedia would take people on a photographic hunt of the city, enabling them to take as many photographs of Chennai to illustrate Wikipedia articles. Besides heritage walks and talks, five photo walks would be conducted.

[caption id="attachment_4237" align="alignright" width="354" caption="The Governor, Lord Errkine and Lady Marjorie Erskine arriving in State at the Madras Park Fair on March 5, 1939. Photo: Hindu archives"]The Governor, Lord Errkine and Lady Marjorie Erskine arriving in State at the Madras Park Fair on March 5, 1939. Photo: Hindu archives[/caption]

Growing from about 15 events in the first year, this year the celebration is accommodating a variety of events, all centered on the theme ‘Madras’. Besides the regular talks, quizzes, exhibitions and performances, there is hotels like Green Park organsing food festivals, Dakshinachitra holding a weeklong celebration, Malayali Club, Roja Muthiah Research Library, Alliance Francaise and Madras Terrace House organizing youth-oriented programmes. Hotels Taj Connemara, Taj Coromandel, The Park, Park Sheraton are giving support.

Competitions like drawing and painting, essay writing, quiz and debate will also be organized by INTACH Heritage clubs by hub schools in Thirvanmiyur, Mylapore, Luz Corner, North Madras, KK Nagar and Purasaiwalkam, centering on coins and dedicating it to Late Raja Sitaraman, coin collector who exhibited his collection in last year’s celebration.

Vijayantha Higher Secondary School, Avadi, would conduct a bicycle rally from Avadi to Marina beach on August 22. One of the highlights of the events would be a reading session on ‘Madras Madrigals,’ a compilation of interesting verses on the city from the book that is out of print, he said.

This year, the celebrations would focus on youngsters in the city. A few bands, which have composed songs about Chennai, would be performing in places such as Elliots Beach. Besides an exhibition on bridges, coins and books, a special cover on arch bridges of the city would be released on Madras Day on August 22.

Credit goes to S. Muthiah

It was the noted Madras historian S Muthiah, who identified the founding day of Madras -- August 22, 1639. And the idea of Madras Day celebration grew out of it. The credit for the spirit of the celebration goes to Muthiah. It was on that day and year that a sliver of land, where Fort. St. George stands today, was sold to the East India Company. The deal was struck by Francis Day, his ‘dubash’ Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan, with the local Nayak rulers.

Once the fort was established, settlements grew around it. As the settlements grew with expanding trade and industry, the villages around it were absorbed into the newly formed city. One of them was ‘Madrasapattinam’, another was ‘Chennaipattinam’. The English name of the city seems to have been coined by the Britishers by shortening the former, while the Tamil name for the city was shortening the latter, the city got recently by the present rulers.

- Asian Tribune -

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