Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If it is Pongal in Chennai...

Well, once upon a long time ago, it used to be "...it must be the Chepauk test!". Though only 9 of the 20 official tests played at the Chepauk from 1934 to 1988 - and none of the 10 tests since - have been held between January 11 and January 18, many believe it is a tradition that Chepauk has 'always' hosted a test match during the second week of January. The weather is good - a nip in the air, cool mornings, bright sunshine, gentle breeze - everything that makes for a glorious day of cricket. And of course, with at least 3 consecutive days - Pongal, Tiruvalluvar Day and Uzhavar Tirunaal (Farmers Day) - usually being declared government holidays, chances of a good 'gate' are pretty high for any event that happens during this time, because the city dwellers would be looking for any kind of entertainment during these days.

That's because Pongal is a festival of the villages, one that celebrates the first harvest of a new season. Beginning on the last day of Margazhi, the festival goes on to the third day of Thai. The first day, Bhogi, is for cleaning up; the second - the actual Thai Pongal - to worship nature, especially the sun; the third, Mattu Pongal, to celebrate the livestock that made the harvest possible. The last day, Kaanum Pongal, is set aside to visit friends and relatives and to exchange the bounties of the harvest. What does the city dweller have to do with many of these? Cleaning up during Bhogi and propitiating the Gods on Pongal day can be done, but the rest? So the city dweller must be entertained, while the villages celebrate.


For the past couple of years, entertainment has been the Chennai Sangamam, a street festival during Pongal, showcasing traditional music, dances and cultural performances. Run by Tamil Maiyam, it has become quite popular in just 3 years of its existence, thanks to the generous support provided by the state government. Hopefully the Sangamam will transcend political divides and continue to be a grand event in the years to come!


2 comments:

Babooshka said...

Very interesting again. Lets hope things can be resolved.

Shantaram said...

@ Babooshka: Yes... the elections are a few months away; a lot of us are hoping the Sangamam stays on no matter who wins!