Ode To Abu

Friday, 10 January 2014

Mylapore Festival 2014 Day 1

Day 1 got off to a musical beginning with a live group concert singing at Nageswara Rao Park. Listening to a live rendition with melodious vocals, instruments and lilting melodies in the wafting early morning breeze is a different experience altogether.

In case you missed out, there's always YouTube!! ;) Look up Parivadini.

The women's bazaar was my first stop. The stalls are lined up behind Sri Kapali temple in the lane adjacent to the temple tank. The beautiful light evening breeze coupled with the reflections of the moon in the water made for a lovely ambience to amble through the streets. Enthusiastic ladies belonging to SHG's (self help groups) are displaying and selling brassware, bamboo baskets, paper and beaded jewellery, even Tupperware!

The stall by young students selling plants and promoting organic crops is very interesting. I asked them for a card/brochure and they said they don't use paper. :-)

An elderly lady is selling steaming hot idlis, chutney and sambhar as well as kozhukattais and other 'tiffin' items while sitting right outside her house on Kumara Gurunathan street! A makeshift table has been set up, with giant hot cases filled with idlis, vadas and the like. A young lady brings them out straight from the kitchen inside the house and puts them in the hot cases and serves them up on plastic plates lined with butter paper. There is a cute Labrador dog sitting at the entrance of the house. His name is Selva :-)

My purchases from the fest - a jute tote bag with Kalamkari patch work and a box made from palm leaf,  by a non-profit group called Aarde Foundation.

Hope to lay my hands on this exclusive limited edition - the brass coffee davara set ! Very few pieces available, and being grabbed like sooda filter kaapi !

The evening programs were wonderful. Group renditions by sishyas and gurus and cultural dances by a Kerala troupe. The troupe performed a dance that friends of a Mopla/Malabari bride render during Malayali Muslim weddings. Such dances are rarely witnessed outside the community and it was a pleasure to watch them gracefully showcase the song and dance routine with colourful, bright costumes. A traditional Kerala style 'diya' dance with the girls dressed in simple and elegant off-white and gold Kerala 'mundus' or saris was also a delight.

Short films were also screened - one showcasing the Margazhi season in Mylapore. It showed bhajan groups walking through Mylapore streets on chilly early December mornings, besides the traditional routine of prayer and 'pooja' that most Mylaporeans follow to this day.

The other documentary film was about Paramasivan, who makes Marrapachi 'bommais' (painted wooden dolls). A humble elderly gent who says his work is indeed his worship. He does not see them as dolls but as 'devis' or gods and goddesses and believes that is why he is successful. He undertakes repairs of broken or old dolls as well, that many families own and store and buy during Navaratri for 'golu' displays every year. 

Enjoyed the clarity of the sound recordings of both films as well as the sound quality of the open air music and dance programs. Live and in the open air is a completely different experience and beats YouTube anyday!!

Reached the food street (yes, one entire stretch of Sundareswarar Street) very late at 10 p.m. and all of the caterers were packing up for the day. Prices are low at Rs. 10 onwards and a variety of South and North Indian 'tiffin' items, snacks, main courses and desserts are up for grabs. Most of the stalls offer napkins and dustbins are set up throughout the area. Do take care not to litter.

Speaking of being environmentally conscious, anyone carrying a plastic bag will be politely requested to exchange it for a cloth bag with the words 'Say NO to plastic' on it. 

All Mylapore Festival volunteers are spunky young school and college students, as well as young adults and some senior citizens. They wear a MF cap and are easy to spot and address all queries of help and for directions with a smile. 

Yet to check out the arts and crafts and photography zones properly, as well as the dance & music performances inside Sri Kapali temple. 

Here's a pic of the displays by Chennai Weekend Artists (CWA), an FB group of people who draw, paint and sketch on weekends. Their artworks are nominally priced and they might just sketch you live and on the spot! Do encourage them by stopping to admire their work and maybe even picking some up. 

Phew! This was a lot for Day 1 and I still feel like I missed most of it! Looking forward to Days 2, 3 and 4. The weekend will have events throughout the day with special focus on children's programmes. Art and craft workshops for kids and painting competitions will be held. The 'kolam' contests are on the weekend.  So too the Heritage Walk and Food Walk. And how can I forget the special Elai Saapad (traditional South Indian meal on a plaintain meal) - this is being hosted by families and have limited space/seating. One has to register to join.

Do pick up fliers that list out the itinerary of events on all days of the Fest. A map outlining the streets is also in the flier. 

Rushing off to catch Day 2 performances at Sannidhi Square!

Catch the buzz at Mylapore Festival FB page


  1. Great notes Sumita. Thanks. Looking forward for the future ones.

  2. Wow....looks like I am missing a great festival. Nice descriptions Sumita...makes me feel like l am there with you!

  3. Sridhar, thank you so much :)

    Ashakka, you would have enjoyed this thoroughly, wish you were here too!