January 19, 2008

Kilpauk's Pongal festivities

Pongal is a festival that can bring a community together.
And do it very creatively.
Here is how a vibrant colony in Kilpauk did it this past week.
Over the recent years, Kilpauk's proactive residents have made some efforts to get the residents together.

One such effort has been the 'Kilpauk Utsav'.
This annual get together is like a local jamboree of games, events, food and sales.
As it grew bigger and the demands stronger, the sales have tended to dominate the utsav, robbing it of the warmth and informality that it began with.
At least that is the feeling of some of Kilpauk's residents.

The Pongal show was very down to earth. And it was created by a Kilpauk colony.
Damodaramurthy Road was the venue, a street just off the Aspiran Gardens area, another of the relics of the gracious neighbourhoods of Madras of the 1950s and 60s which are disappearing. . .
The elders on this street and the adjoining ones put their heads together to present the celebrations and make it memorable for their children.

A lot of planning, toil and creative work went into the event.
I particularly liked their idea of getting the children to create imaginative street d├ęcor to go with the Pongal festival.
Images of rural men and women cut out from paper and board, stuffed with straw and hung from casuarina poles dug into street corners.

Late at night, the volunteers went out to get cow dung, made a gooey mix of it and sprinkled it on the street so that they had a great surface on which to draw stark kolams!
Thanks to the co-operation of the seniors who had thoughtfully pulled out their cars from the parking lots and lined them up elsewhere, the lots were converted into spaces to hold indoor contests and the entire street was free for all the events.

One creative event required a team of kids to do up a mock cow and then race it to the winning post. An experience that gave the children a touch of Mattu Pongal!

The Kilpauk celebration was truly wonderful and warm.
As must have been another in Tambaram. I got a glimpse of a street packed with women, busy designing kolams for what must have been a fun community event for Pongal.

Truly, a festival like Pongal is a perfect setting for a community celebration.
If you had a unique celebration in your colony or you happened to be at one, feel free to share your experience at my blog.

8 comments:

Nandini said...

Hello..... we didn't see you! Were you there really?

Vincent D' Souza said...

No. I wasnt there but a close friend was.
And like a good journalist picked up all the details and even saw dozens of pictures of the fest.
And shared it in the Jottings column which reaches 100,000 houses in the city through four weekly newspapers.

Keep up the good work, Kilpauk!

deat said...

Is the road still called Damodaramurthy? On a couple of maps that I checked out it seemed to have been renamed as "Donnappa". My family lived on Damodaramurthy Road from 1974 to 1982. I went off to college and my parents moved to Bangalore. They sold the house in the late 80's. It was the 5th house from New Avadi Road on the South side.

Anonymous said...

Yes its still called Damodaramurthy Road. This lovely little dead end road near the kilapuk water tank still goes by that name. - Priya

Anonymous said...

Damodaramurthy Road is parallel to Mandapam Road.The Ponnappa Road is an interlink road that connects these two road. Interestingly Ponnappa had two sons, Apparao and Damodaramurthy. There is a dead end road on Mandapam Road - called Apparao Avenue! - Priya

Anonymous said...

Correction: Appavoo and Appavoo Avenue. Not Apparao / Apparao Avenue - Priya

deat said...

Damodaramurthy Road used to end in a parcel of land that was lower than the surroundings with some coconut trees and shrubs. Is that built up now? Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s the neighborhood kids (including myself) would play there and ride our bikes through there (as well as in Aspirin Gardens, Kilpauk Gardens and Mandapam Road). Mr. Damodaramurthy and his family used to live on the second house from New Avadi Road on the South side.

Anonymous said...

No more empty land space; lovely independent houses with modest gardens!