Use Virtual Platforms to Enhance Indian Softpower during Margazhi: VP Venkaiah Naidu

By Hemamalini Srinivasan

Margazhi is a month full of bustling activities in Chennai. It is the music season. People from across the globe come down to India for a short vacation and listen to as many Carnatic concerts as possible. The streets will have lots of bajanai activities. Andaal’s Tiruppavai, Tirupalliyezhuchi by Thondaradipodi azhwar, Manickavasakar’s Thiruvembavai are recited during this 30 days.

Krishna in his Gita says,

brhat-sama tatha samnam

gayatri chandasam aham

masanam marga-sirso 'ham

rtunam kusumakarah

Of the 12 months, I am Margazhi. And of all the seasons, I am spring. That is the uniqueness of Margazhi. People wake up as early as 4 am and recite the aforesaid chantings and offer Pongal (a dish made out of greengram and rice - both sweet and salt).

Inauguration of Yours Truly Margazhi:

Inaugurating Yours Truly Margazhi (as this years' Chennai season has been named by  some sabhas), virtually from Hyderabad, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu appealed to the artiste community to utilise India’s Soft Power and expand its global reach by using virtual platforms to reach out to new audiences.

"In the future, real and virtual mediums are likely to co-exist and artists should fully tap the potential of the virtual medium," he added.

It is the time of the year when Chennai comes alive to the strains of music and the smell of jasmine. Inaugurating ‘Your Truly Margazhi the Vice President said that India should utilise immense potential in soft power to expand global outreach.

“Indian classical dance and music epitomise the balance of life. Our classical art forms embody principles of holism, unity, and harmony- within oneself and with nature," the Vice President said.

He stressed that our cultural treasure of dance, drama, and music is India’s greatest gift to the world and every effort should be made to preserve and propagate them. He also noted the tremendous interest across the world for our classical art forms

Lastly, the Vice President observed that the youth today have a wide exposure to various cultures. While encouraging awareness of cultures of other countries, Shri. Venkaiah Naidu said it is important to remain rooted in one’s own culture, heritage, and traditions.

What is a season without Music, Dance, Discourse?

 No one could have envisioned a Margazhi without music. Even the floods and cyclone of 2015 and 2016, all sabhas, did not stop the December season in Chennai.

Ever since the first Covid case was reported, both artists and rasikas were quite unsure of how things would pan out for the world of art. How would concerts be held?

During lockdown, concerts of smaller durations were held. Thanks to social media concerts were telecast on FB | recorded live and shared on Youtube etc.

Sometime in July, Sabha organizers felt the spirit of Margazhi should not die down and decided to join hands together and organize concerts that are recorded and brought to the rasikas not just living in Chennai but globally too keeping in mind the overall safety.

The Federation of City sabhas (https://citysabhas.org) comprising of leading sabhas such as Narada Gana Sabha, Hamsadhwani, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Brahma Gana Sabha joined hands and organized a full fledged recording of over 100 concerts, discourses, dances under the hashtag “YoursTrulyMargazhi”. This was being done along with Kalakendra and Aalaap. These concerts was inaugurated last week and streaming will go on till January 15, 2021.

Music Academy was equally quick in action and started recording their concerts which will be telecast from December 24 to the 31. Rasikas can buy season | daily passes and listen to the concerts without fastening their seat belts and relaxing at home. This time, there are no awards, no competitions.

Such type of digital concerts definitely are a boon for senior and super senior citizens for their restrictions to returning back home before 8 pm will no longer be there.

Sabhas like Naada Inbam, Aarkay convention center, Sunaadalahari are also telecasting live (free | ticketed) or recording and broadcasting at a later date.

Is this good or bad? 

From the rasikas side, it is a difficult moment as they miss the live experience by their favorite artists on stage. They miss the neighbor’s unrelenting besh bale aaha after some sangathis. They miss their peers. Sabha hopping is being greatly missed this season.

Oh yes - the canteen tidbits - the Keerai Vadais, Kesaris, Halwas, Lunch et al. - some of the best canteen food will be sorely missed.