Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reinventing Mysore Dasara

I had mixed thoughts for Mysore as I read a blog post by my Chennai-based journalist friend Vincent D’Souza. A part of me wondered why some of our creative minds couldn’t think of designing a T-shirt for Mysore. The other part of my mind doubted if such fancy ideas would be acceptable to conservative Mysoreans or go down well with their thoughts on the pig menace, garbage pile-up in street corners and other mundane concerns.

Chennai too has pig menace; is known for its Coovum, a repository of all imaginable germs. Rail passengers to the city can’t miss the unwelcome sight of discarded plastic water bottles, paper plates, polythene bags, and other non-bio-degradable wastes littered for miles on either side of the track as they approach Chennai Central. And yet the city boasts of its December music festival; and has a critical mass of city-lovers that organizes neighborhood heritage walks, celebrates Madras Day and brings out city T-shirts. My friend who sees no contradiction in this would be the first to admit that pigs and Cuuvam can’t be wished away from the Chennai scene. They are as much a factor in the city as its heritage buildings and glass-fronted high-rise structures.

Namma Chennai T-shirt that Vincent blogged about fits in with the Madras Day celebrations (Aug.22), a community initiative with corporate support. They make a song and dance of it by holding an annual T-shirt design contest. The prize-winning design of last year, by Shreyas, a design student, is on this year’s T-shirt. Made in Thiruppur, event organisers order in limited numbers so as to make the T-shirt a collector’s item. Any die-hard Chennaiwasi who develops a chaska for collecting Namma Chennai items can be counted on buying the T-shirt every year.

Founded by a Chennai community newsweekly, Mylapore Times, along with the Nalli Silks and L&T, the Madras Day celebrations are supported by nearly 40 organisations that include not just business houses, but NGOs, select schools and colleges, public trusts, and private foundations, heritage societies and PR firms. Event management and marketing skills go into the design, release and sale of T-shirts and organizing other events.

We boast of much older, better-known and big-time celebrations – Mysore Dasara. But after every year’s celebrations all we get to read in the media is how mismanaged the events were; and about the need for re-inventing Mysore Dasara. There is talk about corporate sponsorship. It is not as if major companies don’t see mileage in Mysore Dasara. Snag is that Dasara ,in the manner in which it is now run, does not leave scope for corporate participation. Over the years it has come to acquire a reputation as a sarkari event that is staged with government grants, by a plethora of officially sponsored committees, mainly for the benefit of pass-holders.

Cross-filed from Praja-Mysore

1 comment:

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