February 23, 2013

Even Mylapore's Mangollai is part of our Social History . . .

How important is a place like Mangollai in the social history of Mylapore?
Very important, those in the know would say.
Now what is Mangollai, many others would ask of a place that is now the fringe of a slum.
It is a question that popped up in my mind as I was reading a little book that Fr. A. Vijay Kiran has published on the late Archbishop of Madras Mylapore diocese, Rev. R Arulappa.
A book brought out to celebrate the birth centenary of the first Indian bishop of this historical diocese, of a man who hailed from a village off Tambaram, lost his parents early in life, heeded the call of God and went on to be a missionary Bishop of this area.
It is the collection of photographs in this book that makes it a hugely valuable record not just for the local Roman Catholic Church but for Mylapore-San Thome.
Fr. Kiran is a collector, archivist and research scholar. He is also one among the four young men who were ordained as priests by Rev. Arulappa for the last time in the latter's ministry.
So his photo collection used in the recent book has stories to share beyond the captions that lie under each of them.
For me, the pictures taken at St. Bede's Anglo Indian School here are important.
Since the campus is a mere sandy extension of the grounds where the Cathedral stands, all major events of the Church are held here.
And since I had attended the installation of the new Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, Most Rev. George Antonysamy in late January, I looked closely at the pictures of the installation of Rev. Arulappa at the same venue way back in March 1966.
I now realize how important the campus of St. Bede's is in the social history of this neighborhood. And this, not just because new bishops of the local diocese are installed here.
Mangollai then has a place in the socio-political histories of our city. It was the key venue for a variety of political meetings and demonstrations in pre and post Independent India. Meetings held at the junction of East Mada and North Mada Streets.
If you look around the old city, the corner of the mada veedhis junction of all our big temples have been political zones - in Mylapore, Triplicane, Saidapet or Tiruvottriyur. Understandably. These were the places where people congregated every day.
I would like to hear from you on the landmark meetings held at Mangollai. Your notes will help add to such social histories.

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