Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXII No. 24, April 1-15, 2023

Heritage Watch: Mylapore and the Continuity of Tradition

The Kapaliswarar Temple festival at Mylapore is underway and by the time you get this issue of MM, will probably be over. But never mind if you missed it, for there will be one the next year, and for years to come. The ten-day celebration is remarkable for its continuity of tradition. The first reference to it is in Sambandar’s 7th century Poompavai Pathigam. References are non-existent thereafter till the 18th century but when the East India Company took over Mylapore, the importance of continuing with this festival was sufficiently felt for dubashes to fund it and in some years the Company itself organising its conduct. This itself is enough indication to show that the events had been held without break for a long period of time.

The ten-day celebration, the highlight of which is the Arupathu Moovar procession on the 8th day, has had a plethora of writing on it from the colonial period onwards. Apart from Tamil verse, song and literature, it also received the attention of European administrators and other observers. Some of those who have written on it include Colin Mackenzie, Lady Elizabeth Gwillim, ME Grant Duff and Laura Glenn (Sister Devamatha).

Much of Mylapore has changed over the years, at least from the 18th century when Kanakaraya Mudali fashioned the processional icons and funded a chariot and yet much has not changed. Come Panguni (Mar/Apr), the pandals over which the Left and Right Hand castes fought are still put up, the tanneer pandals and the peddlers of traditional wares come back and so do the adoring thousands. Mylapore relives its past in its present each year, year after year.

Our VERY OLD is a Vintage Vignettes picture showing the temple festival at Mylapore witnessed by Sister Devamata in 1910. Our OLD is a photograph of the chariot festival featured in the Indian State Railway Magazine dating to 1929. Our NEW was taken in 2022.

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Updated