Chennai First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Chennai, Tamilians and all the People of TamilNadu – here at Home and Overseas
  • scissors
    SALUTE:Leaders of various organisations garlanding the statue of Mutherayar in Tiruchi on Monday.— Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

    SALUTE:Leaders of various organisations garlanding the statue of Mutherayar in Tiruchi on Monday.— Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

    Tight security arrangements made to avert any untoward incident

    Amid heightened security arrangements across the city, several people paid their respects to ‘Perasarar’ Perumpidugu’ Mutherayar on the occasion of his 1,341 birth anniversary on Monday.

    Collector K.S. Palanisamy led the district administration officials in paying respects to ‘Perumpidugu’ Mutharayar by garlanding the statue at Othakadai Junction in the morning.

    Representatives of political parties and various outfits garlanded the statue of Mutherayar with a posse of police personnel guarding the spot and its vicinity regulating crowd and vehicular movements.

    The sudden outbreak of violent acts indulged by members of a particular outfit during the birth anniversary celebrations of ‘Perumpidugu’ Mutherayar in 2012 prompted the police to put in place detailed security arrangements this year too as a precautionary measure.

    A meeting was organised recently by the district administration with members of various outfits for the smooth conduct of the birth anniversary celebrations of ‘Perumpidugu’ Mutherayar, police sources said.

    As part of the security plan drafted for the event, barricades were installed around the statue with a team of police personnel guarding the spot and regulating those coming to garland the statue and vehicular movements.

    Buses which were initially diverted without touching Othakadai were subsequently allowed to proceed via Bharathidasan road. Carrying their organisation flags, members of the Tamil Nadu Mutharayar Sangam, Mutharayar Munnetra Sangam and Veera Mutherayar Munnetra Sangam garlanded the statue.

    In addition to city police, personnel from the Armed Reserve, Tamil Nadu Special Police, Quick Reaction Teams and Striking Forces were deployed at different spots. Pickets were posted at vantage spots in the city as a precautionary measure to ensure order on the day of the celebrations.

    Representatives of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Tamil Maanila Congress and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam garlanded the statue.

    Police said the celebrations went off peacefully amid heightened security measures to ensure its smooth conduct.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Tiruchirapalli / by Special Correspondent / Tiruchi – May 24th, 2016

  • scissors
    FROM THE LOST WORLD:The moving dinosaur is the cynosure of all eyes in the renovated government museum in Pudukottai.— PHOTO: A. MURALITHARAN

    FROM THE LOST WORLD:The moving dinosaur is the cynosure of all eyes in the renovated government museum in Pudukottai.— PHOTO: A. MURALITHARAN

    The moving dinosaur has been a huge attraction for visitors

    The Government Museum here has been attracting a large number of visitors, children, history-lovers, and research scholars thanks to the facelift given to it by the State government.

    New galleries, including a metal ware gallery and auditorium, are important facilities provided at this century-old museum, which is the second largest in the State, after the Chennai museum.

    The ancient flooring has been replaced with tiled flooring all around the museum.

    Exhibits of invertebrates, water birds, different types of fishes, butterflies, arthropods, and reptiles have been carefully displayed.

    The main building has been renovated and converted into a modern gallery with diorama display cases, say museum authorities.

    The metal ware gallery has a collection of south Indian toys, ancient bronze idols, ornamental plates, and trays and copper embossed plates . About 500 metallic exhibits of the ancient era brought from the Chennai museum are display at the metal ware gallery.

    Meetings and training programmes can be organised at the auditorium.

    With 200-seat capacity, the auditorium, on the rear side, will host various events, including inscription-related training for archaeology students.

    The State government had sanctioned Rs. 80 lakh for the work. Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, huge portraits of the Thondaiman rulers, and musical instruments used in the bygone era are the other prized items in the museum.

    Post-renovation, the museum has been attracting a large number of visitors.

    The moving dinosaur is yet another attraction for the visitors cutting across age-groups. With its tail wagging and a wide grin, the dinosaur has been a big hit with the visitors.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Pudukottai – May 23rd, 2016

  • scissors
    May 23rd, 2016adminRecords, All, Science & Technologies
    G. Valli, Vice-Chancellor, Mother Teresa Women’s University, being conferred the Best Scientist Award at a symposium held in Bharathidasan University

    G. Valli, Vice-Chancellor, Mother Teresa Women’s University, being conferred the Best Scientist Award at a symposium held in Bharathidasan University

    The Publication Division of Bharathidasan University and the Indian Academic Researchers Association organised a symposium on emerging trends in innovation in academic research in Tiruchi on Saturday. N. Murugeswari, symposium Director and Publication Officer (in-charge), Bharathidasan University, welcomed the gathering. G. Valli, Vice-Chancellor, Mother Teresa Women’s University, was conferred best scientist award by M.B.M. Ismail, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Management and Commerce, South Eastern University, Sri Lanka.

    Ms. Valli said that the decade, from 2010 to 2020, had been observed as a Decade for Innovation by the National Innovation Council. Technology had played a major role in the research system and it could be oriented through the untiring and pursuing attitude of the researcher.

    Babu Rajendran, Director(in-charge), Council of College and Curriculum Development, Bharathidasan University, presided. J. Manjula, Principal, Periyar EVR College, spoke.


    Mylswamy Annadurai, Scientist and Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, emphasised the importance of students reading newspapers, which helps them to know the world and understand what they know. He was delivering the Graduation Day address at Chendhuran College of Engineering and Technology, Pudukottai. Three hundred students received their degrees.


    Students should learn industrial practices during their study as companies expect candidates recruited by them to fit directly into their work environment without much training, said G. Parthiban, president, Rane TRW Steering Systems Private Limited, speaking at the annual day of Rane Polytechnic College. He urged students to work hard and develop clarity in thinking. R. Venkatanarayanan, president, Rane Corporate Service, said that through continuous learning students can enhance their knowledge and skill. M. Saravanan, Principal, presented the annual report.


    Student toppers were honoured at the ‘Achievers Day’ of MASTeR Group of Institutions. Faculty members who had helped achieve good academic results were also honoured. M.A. Maluk Mohamed, Director, presided. K. Sridhar, Principal, M.A.M. College of Engineering and Technology, William, Dean, Haridoss, VP, and B. Annette, Director, M.A.M School of Business, were present.

    Contributed by C. Jaisankar and G. Prasad

    source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Tamil Nadu / May 23rd, 2016

  • scissors
    Revathi Balakrishnan

    Revathi Balakrishnan

    Indian-American teacher Revathi Balakrishnan was recently honoured by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House for her work in the education.

    Indian-American teacher Revathi Balakrishnan, who was recently honoured by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House for her work in the education space, said she was open to visiting India to conduct workshops or have dialogues with teachers here.

    “I can teach them how to motivate students to learn, how to teach with rigor and relevance and how to build resilience,” Ms. Balakrishnan toldThe Hindu .

    Native of Chennai

    The Chennai-born teacher was named 2016 ‘Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year’ and will now represent Texas in the ‘National Teacher of the Year’ competition – a programme that identifies exceptional teachers in the U.S.

    Ms. Balakrishnan, who works at Patsy Sommer Elementary School in Texas, did her B.A in economics from Ethiraj College in Chennai. She then did her M.A in economics from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

    “My teaching degree is from Texas State University. I came to the U.S. in the eighties and was a systems analyst for 12 years with Liberty Mutual before becoming an educator. Teaching allows me to be creative in my ways of presenting curriculum to students,” she said. She has been teaching for 10 years now.

    Her role is to teach math and English to students who are identified as Gifted and Talented (GT). That is, the top 5 per cent of students in the school.

    “GT students have the ability to learn fast and they think in a different way, but too often, they are not understood. This leads to boredom, behaviour issues and under-achievement. In my classroom, they are challenged at their academic and creative level through project-based learning and Socratic questioning,” Ms. Balakrishnan explained.

    Quality of teaching

    On the education system in India and why it is so tough to get quality teachers here, she said, “I have never taught in India, so I don’t know much about it. Quality teachers just don’t appear magically, whether it is India or the U.S. In order to ‘grow’ successful students, we must ‘grow’ successful teachers. Higher teacher salaries also attract the best of the best to the profession. There has to be a fundamental shift in the way we view teacher support,” she emphasised.


    On her meeting the U.S. President, Ms. Balakrishnan said, it was a lifetime opportunity to visit the White House and meet the President.

    “The ceremony was supposed to take place in the South Lawn. However, as it had rained, it was moved inside. So, I got to see the fantastic portraits of all the Presidents and the lavish decorations. Imagine all the historical conversations that have taken place in the Red Room and the Green Room,” she said.

    ‘GT students have the ability to learn fast and they think in a different way, but too often, they are not understood’

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Sangeetha Kandavel / Chennai – May 18th, 2016

  • scissors
    May 15th, 2016adminEducation, Records, All


    S Satish Kumar from the city emerged as a topper in the union public services examination, the results of which came out on Tuesday. He secured the 651th rank.

    A graduate in electronics and instrumentation engineering from the Government College of Technology, Satish Kumar is a native of Perur. After his graduation, he worked with Wipro Technologies for eight years in destinations abroad like the United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada. “I was impressed with the kind of governance abroad, and wanted to do something similar in our country. So, I thought I will take up civil services,” said Satish Kumar.

    He then cleared Group 1 in Tamil Nadu Public Services Commission (TNPSC), and served as the deputy collector in Madurai district for one-and-a-half years. “In 2014, I took the UPSC exam and got selected in the IRS category. I am undergoing training in Hyderabad,” said Satish.

    Last year, the sixth rank holder in UPSC was from Coimbatore. Charusree T had secured the 749th rank and had got into IFS. In her second attempt, she bagged the sixth rank.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / TNN / May 11th, 2016

  • scissors


    Laying down Hindu Law

    I was recently asked by a reader who the first Indian Principal of Law College was. I’m afraid I have no answers, so I pass on the question to the readers of this column. The question, however, set me wondering on who was the first Professor of Law in Madras. The answer to that is a little easier. When the oldest college in the South, Presidency, Madras, started, one of its first faculties was the Law Faculty and its sole lecturer was John Dawson Mayne, who had been invited from the UK to head it. At Presidency, he took his classes in the evening, so that he could appear in court in the mornings.

    While practising in London in the 1850s, Mayne wrote a book titled Damages and ‘Mayne on Damages’ is still, I’m told, considered an authoritative work. However, certain remarks he had made in it led to solicitors in London boycotting him and his, as a consequence, accepting the Professorship of Law at Presidency. In India, he became fascinated with Hindu Law and made himself an authority. From 1863 to 1878 he worked with translators and eventually brought out a voluminous treatise on Hindu Law, still considered authoritative. Also considered “indispensable” to every lawyer practising in an Indian criminal court was Mayne’s commentary on the Indian Penal Code.

    Mayne’s work on Hindu Law was, however, not a pioneering work, I discovered recently when reading a book of brief biographies of the Chief Justices of Madras during the British period, by V N Srinivasa Rao, an Oxford-educated Barrister who wrote articles and commentaries regularly to various law magazines, mainly in the 1950s and 60s. The pioneer was Sir Thomas Andrew Lumsden Strange who came out in 1798 to head the newly established Recorder’s Court which succeeded the Mayor’s Court. When the former institution was succeeded by the Supreme Court, forerunner of today’s High Court, Sir Thomas in 1801 became its first Chief Justice, a position he held for 15 years. Returning to England in 1817 he began reflecting on Hindu Law and decided to write a book on it. His Elements (of Hindu Law) was published in 1825. But when he sat down to work on a second edition and wrote to several legal luminaries in Madras asking for additional inputs, none replied. In his preface to the 1830 edition, Sir Thomas wrote in sorrow, “In preparing the present edition… the author has no acknowledgements to make in any quarters, for assistance, or suggestion, though invitation, and even solicitation, on his part, has not been wanting.”

    The significance of Sir Thomas’ contribution was recognised by Mayne in 1859 when he wrote, “In fact, Sir Thomas Strange’s treatise has done more than merely collecting the authorities upon the Hindu Law. It has settled the Law. Few will search for themselves through Manu and Mithakshara when they find the substance brought out in the masterly English of the Chief Justice of Madras.” I wonder how many in the legal profession in the city recognise today Sir Thomas Strange’s contribution.


    The cave at Saluvankuppam

    The cave at Saluvankuppam

    The cave in the kuppam

    I had in Miscellany April 25 wondered why no prominence has been given to Saluvankuppam as a destination to also be visited by those going to see that open air museum of rock sculpture that is Mahabalipuram. I wouldn’t have if I had not been confused by Sir Walter Elliot’s description of the place. Saluvankuppam is Tiger’s, or Yalis’, Cave where most visitors stop for a while before proceeding south, three miles further, to the main sculptures. There is also a small signboard at the site saying Saluvankuppam, writes Dr. R.K. Natarajan in setting me straight.

    Natarajan adds that the kuppam in ancient times was known as Tiruveluchiyur and the sculptures there, including the Athirachanda Mandapam a few yards north of Tiger’s Cave, were created during the reign of Rajasimha, the son of Mahindra Varma Pallava, according to that modern authority on Mahabalipuram, R Nagaswamy. Natarajan adds that there are “two inscriptions here, one in Pallava-Grantha on the southern flank and the other in Nagari on the northern flank.” Both are in praise of Rajasimha.

    This information had me searching for a beautiful thin landscaped-sized guidebook on Mahabalipuram that TT.MAPS had produced many decades ago, with photographs by M. Purushothama Rao and script by veteran journalist M C Subrahmanyam. In it, ‘MC’ wrote, “Another attractive monument called the Tiger’s Cave is in Saluvankuppam, a sea-coast village three miles to the north of Mahabalipuram. We see here an enchanting mandapam behind the facade of gigantic, prancing yali-s. To the south of Tiger’s Cave is Athirachanda Mandapam with the bas relief of Somaskanda. Very near the mandapa is a very beautiful sculpture depicting Durga’s fight with Mahishasura. The theme is the same but the artist has exhibited his skill by introducing a number of interesting changes.” Sad, I’d forgotten all this, for I had been the publisher of this guide book!

    Trying to learn more about Tiger’s Cave, I searched and found my 40-year-old copy of Michael Lockwood, Gift Siromoney and P Dayanandan’s Mahabalipuram Studies. It did not take me much further than a questioning of Rajasimha’s ownership of the work in much of the Mahapalipuram area. But it did throw up a surprise. They write, “Although these monuments and their figures are all carved out of stone, yet every inch would have been covered by the artisans with a thin layer of fine, white plaster and then painted… All of the human and animal figures would have been painted so as to impart a startling realism to them. The paint, of course has disappeared except for traces.”

    They refer in a footnote to a letter they had written to The Hindu in January 1970, “…we three adults (were) craning our necks and peering intently at the upper reaches of the ‘Rathas’… On the basis of a little detective work, we were imagining in our mind’s eye… the ‘Rathas’ completely covered outside and in with bright colours of paint… Imagine the many graceful figures which people the niches of these temples rendered in life-like colour… Imagine the great panel of ‘Arjuna’s Penance’ alive with colour… Everywhere… the unmistakable traces of plaster and paint which have survived more than perhaps a thousand years of weathering… are quite evident.”

    Every day a new surprise comes into my life as I work on this column. I had always thought that painting stone sculptures was a new phenomenon.


    When the postman knocked…

    M S Sethuraman’s reference to ‘excommunication’ of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Swaminadhan had D R Santhanam recalling another such incident. He recounts how his paternal grandfather, Anni Seitlur Venkatachari, Village Munsiff of Dusi Mamundur near Kancheepuram and head of 24 families belonging to the Ahobila Mutt, ‘excommunicated’ the family of his younger brother, a District Judge, because he sent his daughter to the UK for higher studies in 1928-29. There, after post graduation, she became private secretary to Lord Louis Mountbatten and came out to India with him when he was appointed Viceroy. After World War II he sent her with the team that went to Japan to facilitate the release of Indian prisoners-of-war. When she eventually returned to Madras as a spinster she wished to adopt one of my correspondent’s brothers but their father said ‘no’, adhering to the ostracism of the past. She then adopted a boy called Narasimhan, who fared well in life and when Dr. D S Rajalakshmi died, he respected her wishes and founded a women’s college in her name in Tiruvallur. The college flourishes, but how many know the background of the person after whom it is named?

    The sketch by Bharanidharan and Lady Nye

    The sketch by Bharanidharan and Lady Nye

    Another reader, Arun Prakash, recounts another incident he recalled after seeing my mention of Governor Sir Archibald Nye in this column on April 9. Bharanidharan (T S Sridhar), a well-known writer and artist with Ananda Vikatan, had sought a sitting with the Governor to do a drawing of him. Lady Nye watched the proceedings carefully. But as Bharanidharan handed his finished drawing to Sir Archibald for his autograph, Lady Nye interrupted: “That nose is not quite right,” she said and taking Bharanidharan’s drawing pen, she made a minor correction to Nye’s nose. “I too do a bit of sketching,” she had said. The accompanying sketch was published together with this anecdote in theSwadesamitran of September 5, 1948 — as my illustration shows.

    Harvard Prof. David R Armitage’s request for information about University of Madras’s Law Professor Alexandrowicz brought me a press cutting from the Alliance Francaise. The cutting from The Hindu of August 14, 1953, states that Charles Henri (the French connection?) Alexandrowicz was elected the first President of the Alliance Francaise. It goes on to list the first office-bearers as follows: Vice-President: Rev. Fr. Charles Racine S.J., Professor of Mathematics, Loyola College; Secretary General: Mrs. Marcella Hardy; Joint Secretary: Dr. V. S. Krishnan, Professor of Mathematics, Madras University; Treasurer: Mr. S S T. Chari, Director of Best and Co.; Members: Mr. M V Subramaniam, I.C.S.; Mr. D. Padmanabhan, I.C.S.; and Mr. W Wolff. Surely there is some kin of theirs who could help out Prof. Armitage. And in passing, I might mention that Chari was the mentor at Best & Crompton of K R N (Ravi) Menon, who is the present President of the Alliance Francaise.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by S. Muthiah / Chennai – May 14th, 2016

  • scissors


    By the age of four, she started painting, B and at 10, she was an `artivist’ -using her art work to raise funds and create awareness about different social causes. Now, she is 23, and Anjali Chandrashekhar, has made the city proud! Two of her posters have been selected for a disarmament campaign by the United Nations (UN). In a recent event, which was attended by the top officials of the UN, including the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the two posters which she designed were unveiled. In a chat with Chennai Times, she talks about her journey as an artivist, the UN’s disarmament campaign, projects she plans to do in India and more. Excerpts…

    I have been painting since the age of four. My grandmother ran a trust for children with multiple disabilities and growing up with them made me realise how lucky I was to be what people would call `normal’. When I started getting serious about art, I realised that I had this really powerful platform which I could use to talk about issues that I held close to my heart. That’s when it all began.I did most of my schooling in PSBB and was involved in art then as well. At the age of 10, I founded a global social project called Picture It. This project uses art to raise funds and awareness about health, humanitarian and environmental causes for many national and international organisations, including several campaigns associated with the UN. It was then that I realised I was really passionate about using my art for greater causes.

    I headed to New York to study industrial design at Pratt Institute, based in Brooklyn. It seemed like a good marriage of my passion for art and creating physical products that had a tangible impact on people’s lives. I was really excited to try working three dimensionally . There was so much more I could do with an object, and I loved how it was more engaging and interactive.Now, I work as a designer, researcher and consultant and I am trying to gain more experience working at the intersection of design, technology and social innovation.
    The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs sponsored the UN Poster for Peace Contest, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the first UN General Assembly resolution, which established the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.The contest aimed to raise awareness for the need for nuclear disarmament and to inspire citizens across the globe to add their voices, and use their artistic talents, to promote a world free of nuclear weapons.Nuclear disarmament is usually spoken about on such a high level and I believe that art has the power to humanise us, and some of the most pressing issues that the world faces today . It is also able to transcend barriers of age, language and literacy, and so, I thought this was a great opportunity for me to show that the brush can be mightier than arms.

    Earlier this year, I worked on a couple of posters around the theme of peace and nuclear disarmament when the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs had announced an international call for entries. With over 4,000 entries received from around the world, I had the honour of having two of my posters being chosen for the official 2016 campaign.

    Releasing the posters on May 3 with the Secretary General was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will cherish forever. I also had the opportunity to meet Mogens Lykketoft (President of the General Assembly), Kim Won-soo (Under Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), and actor Michael Douglas, who has been the longest standing UN Messenger of Peace. I got to speak with them and understand what they do and the challenges within the realm of nuclear disarmament. Ban Ki-moon also did an art interpretation of my poster.

    I am working on some exciting projects that are based in India, and I am looking forward to it. A project on water and sanitation is something I have in mind. If I get adequate funds, I intend to definitely go ahead with the project.
    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by Ashish Ittyerah Joseph / May 12th, 2016
  • scissors
    The Pongal festival celebrated as a community event / The Hindu

    The Pongal festival celebrated as a community event
    / The Hindu

    Terrain and climate have endowed Tamil land with a unique culinary culture. Geetha Venkataramanan captures the essence.

    ‘Unavae marundhu, marundhae unavu’ – this sums up Tamil food, rather food consumed south of Asia from the ancient days. Traditional food and recipes are catching the attention of the health conscious even as the so called convenient and fast food have made inroads into lifestyle.

    The presentation that C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer Foundation had organised recently in Chennai came as a timely reminder not only of the wealth that Tamil Nadu has in terms of food but the history and culture behind the treasure. The speakers – Kausalya Santhanam, Bhaktavatsala Bharati and Viji Varadarajan – took the audience through the Tamil land’s rich (vegetarian) food heritage spanning thousands of years.

    Kausalya Santhanam.

    Kausalya Santhanam.

    The humble idli, eminently suitable for all ages (thanks to steam preparation), did not after all originate here, said Kausalya, who acknowledged Dr. K.T. Achaya as her source. It has its roots in Indonesia, where it was called ‘kedli,’ the chefs accompanying the kings of that country bringing with them the methods of fermentation. The staple food of the South Indians finds mention in Manasollasa, the 12 century encyclopaedia. Dosai and aappam find mention in Sangam literature.

    The five divisions of land as Marudham, Kurinji, Paalai, Mullai and Neidhal have high value in Tamil literature with the people and the chieftains leading lives as dictated by the nature of the terrain in which they lived.

    Sangam literature attributes distinctive characteristics to the denizens of each region. Geography decided the occupation of the people, which in turn reflected in the food they ate.

    Rice figured in ancient Tamil literature, that which was stored for three years considered premium. Guess what Brahmins ate? Curd rice and mango pickle! Rice roasted on hot sand was a favourite snack.Pathupattu sings of salt exchanged for rice. All, including women consumed alcoholic beverages, toddy being the most common.

    Sesame oil (nallennai) and coconut oil find mention in Naaladiyar and Divya Prabhandam. While references to turmeric and pepper are plenty, conspicuous by its absence is mustard. How was food seasoned then, one wonders.

    In recent history, the Maratha rulers had several kitchens, so elaborate was the cooking drawn from various cuisines.

    Bhaktavatsala Bharathy

    Bhaktavatsala Bharathy

    It was the Kurinji (hills) people, who discovered fire to cook meat, informed Bhaktavatsala Bharati. Mullai (pastoral) people, basically farmers, took to boiling and frying was a technique adopted by the people of Marudham and Neidhal (seashore). He went on to say that ancient Tamil has 13 terms to refer to food, Una, undi, agaaram, for example.

    There were 209 sub-cultures and as many food practices. Eating, he said, was a social act. Food was meant to be shared. Quite understandable, hospitality being the hallmark of the Tamils. The concept of sharing is behind the act of Koozh vaarthal, an activity so common in Amman temples (annadanamcould be an echo of this custom) and which transcends the rural-urban divide. The haves and have-nots found a common ground here. Grains were collected and the porridge made to be distributed among the villagers. Mayanakollai also is based on the same concept, he said. The temple figured as a place of refuge and solace, where the local community gathered. The temple kitchen is therefore as sacred as the sanctum, he observed.

    Water was brought from the Cauvery delta to quench the thirst of pilgrims, who trekked to Palani (Kurinji), to participate in the famous Panguni Uthiram festival happening in March, when the weather is hot. The generosity was reciprocated by the Nattukottai Chettiar community that carried jaggery during Thai Poosam, January being a cooler month and the sweet would give warmth in the hilly region!

    Yet another point to underline how food and eating were community-based. Bharati made the interesting observation that the woman was the first farmer, her tool being the trident (soolam). It has always fallen upon the women to feed the family, a trait that can be traced back a thousand years and more. What better way than to dig the soil and sow seeds for long-term benefit?

    Food united communities and flavours differed although the same ingredients were used.

    Viji Varadarajan

    Viji Varadarajan

    Viji Varadarajan explained how food was classified according to three qualities – tamas, sattva and rajas, the middle one preferred by Brahmins, especially the priestly class. This accounted for the absence of garlic and onion in their preparations. The components that go into a typical sambar have medicinal properties that cannot be ignored, she said.

    Author of several cook books, Viji literally led the audience through the hills and plains of the South, where the Kongu, Vellala, Chettinad, Kannada, Andhra and Kerala communities tossed and tweaked ingredients to offer recipes unique to their belts.

    To the modern refrain of eat millets, Viji’s answer was: “Yes, millets are healthy and nutritious. But it is best to continue with what one grew up with. Only mind the portions.”

    Globalisation opened all the doors, food being no exception. Fast recipes and takeaways have reduced the time spent in the kitchen. Teach children the importance of traditional food, which alone can keep modern day’s diseases at bay, Bhaktavatsala pleaded. Can across the counter delicacies offer ‘Ammavin kaimanam’ that comes with so much love and concern? Kausalya’s question was of course rhetoric.

    When Masterchef shows are popular, it is most appropriate that C.P. Ramaswamy Foundation chose to whet the appetite for traditional cuisine, which never considered food and health as two different things.

    The taste buds were taken into account too, as the delicious sweet thinaipongal offered at the start indicated.

    For details email, Bhaktavatsala Bharati:; Viji Varadarajan:; Kausalya Santhanam:

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review / by Geetha Venkataraman / May 13th, 2016

  • scissors


    When Ramana Bhat, a vedic scholar from Udupi, wanted to migrate to the Madras Presidency along with his six children in the early 1900s after a severe drought hit Dakshina Kannada region, Egmore was his immediate choice. Egmore, derived from Elambore, which means seven villages in Tamil, was mostly filled with government employees from the brahmin community. They lived in single storey houses hidden amidst thick vegetation, and worked in government offices lodged in majestic Indo-Saracenic buildings.

    Bhat’s was one of the first seven families that shifted base to Madras. Having witnessed the migration of many families driven out of their soil by drought over the next few months, Bhat’s household wanted to serve their community in some way. This is when their experience in the temples and its kitchens in Udupi came in handy.

    Two of Bhat’s sons Shyam Bhat and Hari Bhat started Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan, one of the earliest vegetarian hotels, on Hall’s Road, Egmore. Over the years, it grew to be a popular landmark in the area and was rechristened as Udipi Home.

    “In 1955, we were the first to have an air-conditioner in a standalone restaurant in the city,” said 46-year-old Ram Bhat, son of Hari Bhat, who now runs Udupi Home, which now includes lodging and a restaurant named Mathsya. Bhat said although there was a sizeable north Indian population in the area, there was no restaurant catering to them. “We were among the first to introduce north Indian cuisine in our menu,” he said. Cold drinking water, a luxury in the 60s and 70s, was sold for five paise.

    The restaurant boasts of several celebrities who were regulars before they went on to become big names. The Amritraj brothers boosted their energy with a generous glass of badam kheer every day after tennis practice in the 1970s at the stadium nearby, which is now the Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium. MG Ramachandran too was a fan of the kheer.

    “Actors Nasser, ‘Thalaivasal’ Vijay and director Selva worked at our restaurant as stewards,” Bhat recalled. But the owners of the more than a century-old hotel, valued some of their little known customers, who had been their regulars for many years and wanted to honour them. Hence came ‘P J Uthappam’, named after a Prashanth Jain, and ‘Pistah milkshake Pal’s Special’ after a Palaniappan. Both had been customers for four decades. Egmore was, however, more than just the food empire built by the Bhat family. With public halls built during the British Era for entertainment, Egmore has always been a self-contained locality.

    The Egmore station had a special feature. Cars could go up to the platform so that passengers could get off and board the trains from there, said Ram Bhat.

    “The Egmore museum and the art gallery were our regular spot for playing hide-and-seek. After playing, we would spend our time watching the train pass by in the level crossing near Gengu Reddy subway,” recalled 55-year-old S Lakshminarayanan, a resident of Sait Colony, Egmore. The Cooum was one of the major transportation routes.

    Students from Presidency College would take the rowing boats to reach the campus from Egmore. The women had lived life that revolved much beyond the realms of their family. They started an NGO ‘Kamala Nehru Madhar Sangam’ engaging the kids to collect donation to educate the underprivileged children.

    “The locality had everything. Unfortunately, it has also become a victim of crass commercialization.There are barely few houses in the locality now,” said Lakshminarayanan.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / by U. Tejonmayam / TNN / May 06th, 2016
  • scissors
    Polo players Abhimanyu (left) and M Buchi Prakash Rao | R Satish Babu

    Polo players Abhimanyu (left) and M Buchi Prakash Rao | R Satish Babu

    To revive polo in Chennai, M Buchi Prakash is scouting for land where the Buchi Babu family plans to open a riding school and train youngsters in the sport. “I have a licence for importing horses from New Zealand, which I did earlier, and had 12 stables,” says Buchi Prakash, a polo player, who first took a team to Bombay in 1971 and won the Silver Stick in the All India Polo Tournament at the age of 21. He intends to open the academy by September.

    Buchi Prakash is also a six-time winner of the Kolanka C up, which was donated by the raja of Kolanka. The six-foot-tall cup is made of pure silver and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s largest trophy”. He also won polo matches in 18 countries, including playing against the Sultan of Brunei. The equestrian says he learnt the scientific techniques of the game from Prem Singh, the erstwhile maharaja of Jodhpur, but is a self-taught polo player.

    Malavika Prakash Rao | Vinod Kumar T

    Malavika Prakash Rao | Vinod Kumar T

    Buchi Prakash’s daughter, Florida-born Malavika Prakash Rao, followed in his footsteps. “My exposure to horses and riding began at the age of two,” says the 40-year-old with a laugh. “I later trained under Savanth saheb, the riding instructor in the Madras Polo and Riders Club from the age of six.” Frequent trips to Chennai enabled her to pursue her sports activities. Later, in 1993, realising her passion for horses and riding prompted her to enroll in the Water Stock house Training centre in Oxfordshire in England to train in dressage and stable management.

    After her graduation from the Academy of Arts in San Francisco, she moved to Bengaluru in 2010 and joined the Embassy International Riding School. She participated in dressage competitions and won many. In 2015, Malavika won the 11th place, competing with international riders. “The club hosts competitions for six months a year for horse jumping and dressage,” she explains.

    Malavika comes from a long line of sportspersons. “Polo is more a masculine game, which has come down to us from the Persians and was taken seriously by the royal families in India. I always stood in when a player could not make it to the polo match,” she says. She also plays tennis.

    Malavika’s great great grandfather Modavarapu Venkatamahipati Nayudu, or Buchi Babu, was a great Madras sportsman in the 1880s and 1890s. He founded the Madras United Club and owned the sprawling Luz House. He had 21 stables.

    Malavika’s great granduncles Baliah and Ramaswami were cricketers in the 1930s, and were famous for breaking the clock of the Presidency College clock tower with their sixes. They played in the Ranji Trophy. Ramaswami’s tennis feats in Cambridge earned him the Cambridge Tennis Blues and a place in the Davis Cup team. He played international doubles with M J Gopalan.

    Buchi Prakash’s father M V Prakash, who began his sports career with cricket, tennis and golf, ended up playing polo and won the South India Gold Vaz Award in 1955 and the Kolanka Cup in 1960. He also won many tennis tournaments in Madras Gymkhana Club in 1945.

    Malavika’s brother Abhimanyu carries the family tradition by playing polo and won the Kolanka cup in 1997.

    Youngest of Buchi Prakash’s brood is 32-year-old Kadambari, a swimmer. “My grandfather used to swim three kilometres every day. Even though we were encouraged to play different of sports, I was fascinated by swimming,” she says. “We learnt to ride as children. Our day began at 5.30 am with my father drilling us “toes up, heels down, but my heart was in swimming”. She won the state Masters Swimming Champion Meet in Chennai in 2012, and in 2013, she won three golds and a silver at the Indore National Aquatic Meet.


    ■ Malavika comes from an ancestry of a long line of polo players

    ■ Her great grand uncles Baliah and Ramaswami were cricketers in the 1930s

    ■ Her great, great grandfather, Modavarapu Venkatamahipati Nayadu, founded the Madras United club, owned the sprawling Luz House and had 21 stables

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Magazine / by Uma B alasubramaniam / May 07th, 2016

  • « Older Entries