CHENNAI: When the Dakshinamurthy Auditorium at Mylapore raises its curtains, the rhythmic drops of the ghungroos on the ground and the swirling of the Carnatic ragas in the air will announce the arrival of a new Margazhi — the one of a change. The third edition of Marghazhi Matram, an eight-day annual cultural fest featuring dance and music performances by differently-abled performers and other under-represented communities, is a fusion at its best which celebrates inclusivity. Organised by SciArtsRUs, a non-profit organisation based in California, in association with Live4You, the festival gathers over 200 artists from various backgrounds and talents.
Part of bigger plan
The initiative was launched in India in 2019 when Ranjini Kaushik, the founder and president of SciArtsRUs felt that there were very few festivals curated for artists with disabilities. Ranjini says, “This event got launched as a part of a larger initiative called Arts Abilities which is a global platform that provides opportunities for artists with disabilities (both visual and performing artists). We also conducted a festival called Wings Unlimited, where we featured all these different artists from around the world. We felt the need to create the fest when we noticed that India doesn’t celebrate the artists as much. Margazhi, the month of celebrations in the south, became the right time to conduct the festival.”
Considering the successful reception of the festival from both the artists and the audiences for the past two editions, this year, the stage is set for all cross-cultural, folk, differently abled and LGBTQIA+ performers. The representation is from six countries, including India, the US, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and the UK.
About the process of selecting the artists, “We don’t compromise on the quality of the artists’ performance. We feature professional, semi-professional and upcoming artists,” she adds. As a part of welcoming new talents, they will feature the percussion performance of 20 hearing-impaired children on the inaugural day. A memorial lecture on Understanding Music and Differential Ability by Kalaimamani Anil Srinivasan, pianist, social entrepreneur and founder of Rhapsody, is also on their list.
An inclusive space
Ensuring inclusivity in terms of the stage provided, the organisers chose an accessible venue, friendly to everyone. “It is a wheelchair-friendly venue. The stage is also deep and wide, to suit the needs of visually impaired artists, especially dancers.
We also promise access to opportunities. We went out of our way to look for artists not just within Tamil Nadu but also from neighbouring states like Kerala and Karnataka. The list also includes cross-culture artists of non-Indian origin who are practising Indian music and dance. We are taking inclusion to another level this time by featuring artists from the transgender and folk dance communities,” says Ranjini.
The event will commence on December 2 at Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, Mylapore and is free for all. For details, visit: https://www.facebook.com/SciArtsRUs/