Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Prayer hall

As far as its history as a part of Madras goes, West Mambalam does not have much; there were probably a few villages on the western side of the Long Tank, but little remains of them today. It was only after the Long Tank was filled during the 1910s that this area came into its own.  

Given that vintage of its surroundings, this 58-year old hall is a venerable institution. It had its beginnings during the Rama Navami celebrations in the year 1954. K. Subramania Iyer felt that the good folks of West Mambalam deserved their own celebrations rather than having to run across to those in neighbouring areas. Spurred on by his friend Srinivasa Rao, they approached Vepathur Venkatarama Iyer who shelled out Rs.25 as his donation; buoyed by this, 'KS' and Rao sought contributions from other residents of the area. With a princely sum of Rs.242, the first Rama Navami celebrations at West Mambalam were conducted for nine days in a thatched shed on Bhaktavatsalam Street. 

Vepathur Venkatarama Iyer continued to support this fledgling effort, when KS and Rao, now with a few others helping them, wanted to create a permanent hall for the celebrations. It was Iyer's support that helped them secure the 10,000 sft space on which this hall stands today. Dedicated to the Lord Rama, it was named the Ayodha Ashwamedha Maha Mandapam. Drop those two words in the middle and anyone will show you the way to the focal landmark of today's West Mambalam!

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