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

Vol. XXXIII No. 2, May 1-15, 2023

Heritage Watch: Markers of Displacement

The history of any metropolis is one of continuous ­displacement of people. The original settlers are moved out by waves of new people for various reasons. Madras that is Chennai is no exception. Street names in various localities still commemorate people who once inhabited spaces – Gollavar (Milkmen) Agraharam, Ayanavaram, Kosapettai, Vannarapettai … these are all names of communities that practised a common vocation and stayed at a locality before changing circumstances moved them out.

Perhaps the most displaced and tragically at that, are the fisher folk, who were the original inhabitants of what was –Madrasapattanam. Our OLD is St Peter’s Church, Royapuram, which is perhaps the first marker we have of a displacement. The structure was originally built in 1829, at the request of the Christian fishing community that had been displaced in the late 18th century from North Beach, where the mercantile community was rapidly moving in from the Fort.

Our NEW, courtesy The Hindu, is of the fishing community in Mylapore, now being threatened with a shift. Those who are engineering this will do well to remember that Sambandar in his Poompavai Pathigam dating to the 7th century, describes Mayilai as a fishing village.

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