What started as Madras Day in 2004 has gone on to become Madras Week. About the middle of that year, Vincent D’Souza, editor, Mylapore Times; S. Muthiah, senior journalist, author and city historian; and myself met at Muthiah’s place over a cup of tea and discussed the possibilities of celebrating the founding of Chennai that is Madras. According to Muthiah, Madras is considered to have been ‘founded’ on August 22, 1639 – Andrew Cogan and Francis Day of the British East India Company, and local dubash Beri Thimappa struck a deal that day with the local Nayaks. Which makes the city 369 years old this year.
The past two or three years, more and more people, groups and institutions have been coming forward to celebrate Madras’s birthday. It was heartening to see some colleges and schools respond last year and we hope to see even better response this year.
Joining us to help organize a few things is S.R. Madhu, senior journalist who in his younger days had worked with The Times of India, and then the U.N.’s Bay of Bengal Programme. Sushila Ravindranath, editor, Deccan Chronicle, and V. Sriram, businessman-cum-prolific writer, came on board last year. In any case it is a small team, and volunteers are always welcome.
Like last year, Hotel Green Park will provide a hall. On August 23, Saturday, a puppetry show for children, storytelling for children, and a talk on temples of Chennai have been planned. This year, the Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Anna Nagar School will be part of Madras Week celebrations. A screening of a documentary film and a talk is being planned there.
Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School has already put in place a team to organise various events during the week. When I spoke to Suma Padmanabhan, the principal, she was full of enthusiasm as usual.
Lakshmy Venkatraman’s Gallery Sri Parvati will host a drawing and painting exhibition by a national award winning art director.
Others who have confirmed participation include Peekaboo Patterns, Hippocampus and Vanilla.If you wish to volunteer, participate or even suggest anything, you can call 24761122 or email email@example.com.