More than just music: A Margazhi in Madras

During Margazhi music season, there’s a palpable excitement in the air — the expectation of soul-stirring concerts, ladies dressed in Kanjeevarams wafting from venue to venue. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

In less than a month from now, Chennai will usher in yet another year of its famous music season also known as Margazhi music festival. Held in the Tamil month of Margazhi, which runs from mid-December to mid-January, the relatively cooler and balmy weather of the city is welcomed with strains of Carnatic music. Enthusiasts are seen sabha (music hall) hopping in droves, and one would find them busy following their favourite artistes with their concert schedule.

Sabhas or venues that host artistes from across categories such as debutants, juniors and seniors, come alive with back-to-back concerts. And there are organisations that surface only during the margazhi season with their programmes.

Women clad in exquisite Kanjeevaram silk sarees and jasmine flowers adorned on their hair, are a regular to the scene. The festive feel is amped up by food canteens that cater to a broad range of gastronomical escapades. The micro economy around the festival is complete with home stays, serviced apartments and hotels in and around the epicentre of the festival — Mylapore — being flooded by showgoers from overseas and other states.

The festival which began as a small set of concerts around 80 years back in erstwhile Madras Presidency under the British, has today become a carnival of sorts, bringing together a diverse group of people, soaking up the melody and rhythm of classical music and dance, alongside other art forms like instrumentals, theatre, harikatha, etc.

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