City festivals — I love them! I’ve recently returned from the ‘Madras Season’ — that city’s one-and –a –half-month extravaganza of music, dance and discussions.
It’s an extraordinary experience. It’s heartening to see the citizenry devoting so much time to cultural activities. At the same time, they cement their relationship with the city and its rich heritage almost as if it were a place of pilgrimage.
As an offshoot, relationships with friends too get strengthened as people catch up with one another doing the things they enjoy. Plus, it becomes a cultural fashion show with people pulling out their most artistic outfits. The artists too, especially women vocalists, set trends with the new jewellery sets they wear at each concert.
True, other cities also have their bursts of festival-cum-culture utsavs, such as the puja in Kolkata or the Ganesh Utsav in Pune, which are delightful.
But these are basically centered on religious occasions. Alternatively, metros host cultural events — the upcoming Kala Ghoda Festival being one such — that for a brief period, adds a different energy to the city.
But ‘The Season’ in Chennai is unique. An assortment of sabhas — more in numbers each year — vie with each other to offer the best events. From early morning till night, one can spend day after day, and week after week, catching music and programmes, having tiffin and coffee at the various venues—and meeting friends as well.
Over hot vadas, fresh pongal, warm, sweet kesari and steaming coffee, friends go over the day’s programmes, ticking off the day’s agenda.
Some of my high-flying Delhi friends — women in exclusively woven Kanchipuram saris and men in designer angavastrams, are making it a point to descend on the city, if only for a few days. This is a special treat: to meet up with one’s friends in another setting, and share the best ‘The Season’ has on offer.
(The writer’s website is www.priyawriting.com )