For more than a month before classes began on June 7, St. Xavier’s College has been humming with activity. Students have been meeting in classrooms, under archways and, most importantly, in an enlarged, air-conditioned cupboard under the stairs: The Malhar Office.
Malhar, the college’s cultural festival, is scheduled to take place in August, but the process of putting it together begins as early as May.
College festivals might be a lot of fun for those four days, but it takes months of effort to bring it together. And those who organise them put it up on their CVs because of the exposure it gives them. The students behind festivals are carefully selected and trained for the job.
Just like any large college festival, Malhar is run by a strict hierarchy of students, who apply and compete for various positions in the 20 departments every May.
“Right now I’m focusing on sorting out the rules and regulations and proofreading them before we send them out to the colleges,” said 19-year-old Shringar Rao, vice-chairperson events, referring to the handbook of this year’s events, to be given to all participating colleges.
“Ever since I was appointed on May 6, I’ve been coming to college every day to meet with the nine events departments to discuss the content for each event.”
The 11 departments in charge of management have no less work. While one department attempts to make a chandelier out of paper peacocks, another roams the college updating the furniture inventory.
“The logistic department has been meeting with contractors, technicals with technicians, and of course, marketing, has been negotiating with sponsors,” said Rao.
Apart from the sheer scale of the undertakings, some colleges also begin work on their festivals early because they work entirely without external help. “We handle everything on our own, from events to security, from the equipment to the PR work,” said Rao proudly.
At IIT-B, too, preparations for their annual cultural festival Mood-Indigo, one of the largest festivals in the country, are underway. Although Mood-I is in December, the core group (CG) is already in place and the theme ‘Desi Tadka’ has been finalised. “It is not easy to get into the core group. There are about eight rounds of interviews where a panel grills you,” said Aditi Jain, who is in charge of media relations.
In its 40th edition, the festival has an impressive list of core group members such as Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India.
NM College in Vile Parle is in the grip of similar activity. The college’s cultural festival Umang begins on August 19 and goes on for four days, coinciding with Malhar. “The Core of Umang — the 20 department heads, four vice-chairpersons and chairperson — handles all events,” said Kruti Shah, public relations head for Umang. The theme this year is Ancient Resonance.
“We are in the process of sending out invitations to all the colleges in Mumbai, so everyone stays back late to fill in letters and stick hundreds of envelopes. During vacations we have more time to finish all this. Once college starts we will have to juggle lectures and work,” said Shah.