Chennai Sangamam , the most extravagant Tamil Cultural Festival is back after almost a decade with a grander avatar.
The state Tourism and Culture Department has planned a four-day cultural event from January 13.
Chief Minister MK Stalin will inaugurate the signature cultural event of the city at Island Grounds a day before Pongal. A whopping 700 artists have been roped in from across the state and country for what would be called ‘Chennai Sangamam – Namma Ooru Thiruvizha’ which would be held at 16 different locations in the city from January 14 to 17.
Begun in 2007, the Sangamam has showcased dance, music and other rural art forms at different locations during the Pongal festival and became popular before being discontinued when the AIADMK-led alliance formed the government in 2011. In January 2022, the event was held in Island Grounds, but rather on a small scale due to COVID-19.
Now, Greater Chennai Corporation and the state tourism department are surveying different parks and public spaces and have started preparations for the festival that will be named “Namma Ooru Thiruvizha”.
A mixture of folk and classical arts (both dance and music) plus other state dances would be performed in 30-minute slots from 6 pm to 9 pm daily during the four days at the 16 designated locations, which include parks, playgrounds and beaches.
Among the locations are Corporation Ground in Kolathur, Robinson playground in Royapuram, Nageswara Rao park in Mylapore, Semmozhi Poonga, Tennis Ground in Nungambakkam, Tower park in Anna Nagar, Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar, Beach Road in Tiruvanmiyur, Natesan Park in T Nagar and Ramakrishna Nagar ground in Valasaravakkam.
Organisers have also planned to host traditional food festivals by inviting established traditional caterers like Thalapakkati, Iruttu Kadai Halwa and a few others. They have planned to source and sell products of those caterers unable to turn up at the event venues.
The cultural festival could also feature a few traditional games this time. The events would happen simultaneously at all locations in the city. The artists were selected by conducting district-level auditions where regional committees shortlisted them and sent videotapes of their performance to the state headquarters for final selection.
When asked Dr B Chandra Mohan, principal secretary to the state tourism department said, “We expect to see a lot more excitement and turn out of the people this Pongal.” The government, which restricted the event to Chennai last time as the city just bounced back from the impact of COVID, has planned to hold similar events at other cities like Coimbatore, Salem, Tiruchy, Tirunelveli and Madurai during the course of the year based on availability of place and time and facilities.
A cultural renaissance spearheaded by Kanimozhi Karunanidhi in the previous DMK regime (2006-11), the event made a comeback following DMK’s return to power in 2021 after it was shelved during the 10-year AIADMK regime. The event, which was renamed ‘Namma Ooru Thiruvizha’ last year, has included Chennai Sangamam to its title this year.
A mixture of folk and classical arts (both dance and music) would be performed in 30-minute slots from 6 pm to 9 pm daily