In the early hours of Monday close to sun rise, a group of persons, who could easily be mistook for devote pilgrims on a trip to a temple, descended on the newly-renovated MGR memorial on the Marina.
A priest followed them into the enclosure. Within minutes, a makeshift “homa kundam” was created and a fire was started. Only then did visitors to the memorial realise what was transpiring. Making their journey from far-away places, a group of about 10 men payed obeisance to their “hero,” M G Ramachandran, on his 25th death anniversary with the traditional Hindu ritual of “Shraddham.” They had a list that apparently contained the names of MGR’s parents and grandparents, vital for the entire ritual.
The men, who avoided speaking to others, equated MGR to their parents and attributed their current position to the leader.
This incident is not an aberration. Across the city, the legacy of the former Chief Minister came alive with almost every street corner decked with makeshift pandals occupied by the man’s portrait. Auto stands transformed into spots for food distribution. Many took a trip to the local hospital to donate blood.
Ask any one involved in such activity and it is easy to realise how, even after 25 years since his passing away, MGR has continued to capture the imagination of public. What was surprising though was the participation in these activities by youngsters, who were just 19 or 20 years old and were born well after the lifetime of the charismatic actor. “I have not seen him except in the movies. But my father has told me many times how he had helped poor people like us. For our family, he is God,” said Vel Murugan, son of an auto driver in Triplicane. In the words of such youngsters, it is but natural to see that memories of MGR is something bequeathed as a cherished asset. Songs from his films filled every street of the city. His fans said it drives them even today.