CHENNAI: The smell of jackfruit and sound of music through speakers, fill the air. Right before the Sri Kappali Temple is a large stage, before which hundreds of people sit in rapt attention.
The 17th edition of the Mylapore Festival, in association with Sundaram Finance, was held on January 10. Over 2,000 people drifted through Sannidhi Street to see the cultural events lined up for the day. The evening saw a ‘nadaswaram’ performance by the students of guru Mulai Rajendran and a music concert by the students of Vijaya Kalalaya, followed by a Tamil drama titled Love Pannungo Sir, directed by Elango Kumanan.
The puppet show titled Harishchandran, was performed by the Nagercoil-based B Muthuchandran Kuzhuvinar Tholpavai Koothu, based on the king of the same name mentioned in the text Aitareya Brahmana. “Freedom fighter and father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was deeply affected by this story when he saw it as a child. He swore to only tell the truth from then on,” said the narrator behind the thin, see-through screen.
Seventeen years ago, the festival began as a ‘kolam’ competition in a school nearby, and soon developed into the four-day festival it is today. According to director of the Mylapore Festival, Vincent D’Souza, the festival is an attempt to reclaim public spaces. He explained that streets around temples were used as a religious and socio-cultural space, but have now been encroached by shops and hawkers.
“Mylapore has a certain magic. It has become a hub of music and dance, which has.moved from north Chennai to central Madras. There are ancient temples here, with heritage from Hindu, Christian and Muslim religions. All of this merges together in a magnetic way,” he said. To use these public spaces differently, the railings near the temple now display 20-25 paintings by local artists.
The Mylapore Festival will be held at Sannidhi Street, Mylapore, till January 13.