Margazhi 2.0: In comics & more – Times of India

Chennai News

Early morning keerthan chantings at temples and kutcheri-hopping have been an integral part of Margazhi celebrations for Sasvath Utsatya. But, with the festivities going online, Margazhi e-comics, and online audio stories on characters such as Andal, Periyazhwar, Krishna, and Ramayana have made up for the absence of physical celebrations. And the 14-year-old is also able to share the informative and humorous Margazhi content he finds on the internet with friends across the globe.
“We feel like one large family, learning and celebrating together. Isn’t that the true spirit of Margazhi as intended by Andal,” asks Utsatya, a Class IX student from Adyar.
This year, Margazhi-themed comic strips and animated videos explaining topics ranging from Andal’s life, and shlokams to experiences in Chennai during the season are entertaining and engaging a young audience on online platforms.
Aimed at educating children on Azhwargal and Ramayana, Srishti Tales, a Chennai-based Sanatana Dharma content developer for children, has been uploading narrations of short stories with an illustration as the visual, on multiple portals such as YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, and Instagram.
“The stories are five to seven minutes long and do not have much visual content,” says Sreevidhya Ramanujam, founder of Srishti Tales, adding that she produces content with her children in mind. “My content is screen-free, with an aim to keep the children away from devices,” she says, adding that she sticks to short videos as the attention span of children is limited.
Ramanujam also recently created and launched a Tirupati 2020 family board game. Filled with elements such as laddoo counters, special darshan passes and padayatra, this dice game can be downloaded and used by anyone.
At present posting short audio moral stories on Aranya Kandam (a chapter from the Ramayana) narrated by 65-yearold Veda Nambirajan, Srishti Tales will soon be covering Sundara Kandam from the Ramayana and the stories of Andal and her father Periyazhwar.
Nambirajan, Ramanujam’s mother-in-law from Thiruvananthapuram, is uncomfortable reading scripts. “I memorize the story and do practice before recording it,” she says.
Known as Veda ‘Patti’ in the series, this project introduced her to the world of social media. “I try my best to record the stories, without being preachy. This is important when it comes to communicating content on morals and myths,” she says.
For Priya Murali, founder of Spirit of Margazhi Utsav, e-comics were a way to ensure novelty during the digital Margazhi festivities. “We are flooded with Andal photos and the same kind of content every year. With the celebrations restricted to online platforms, we need to find ways to appeal to the masses,” says the 43-year-old who moved to Texas some years ago.
Spirit of Margazhi Utsav’s e-comics on Instagram and YouTube feature their parrot mascot Somu, who is witty and funny.
The latest e-comic on Andal, ‘Kodhai Kadhai – Thithikum Thirupavai’, focuses on a few key thiruppavais (devotional Tamil poems). “We have used bright and simple visuals to put mythological concepts into perspective for young folks,”
she says.
Murali says the comics target people aged five to 25. “It is fulfilling when parents message us saying they introduced Andal to their toddlers with our comics,” she says.
For Rohit Bhasi, an illustrator from Bengaluru, drawing a Margazhi scene for Spirit of Margazhi Utsav was an entirely new experience.“I enjoyed researching many interesting snippets from Indian mythology, and traditional Tamil beliefs and practices,” says Bhasi, who often uses mythological themes to create his artwork.
Unlike Bhasi, Upasana Govindarajan, an illustrator and graphic designer, has been an ardent fan of Andal and has undertaken projects to draw Margazhi art in the past. “I grab every opportunity to draw Andal as she is filled with emotions and expressions. I am always filled with joy while drawing her,” says Govindarajan, who uses digital apps such as Adobe Fresco and Procreate to sketch her on an iPad.
This Margazhi is special as it is going global, believes the 31-year-old who now lives in Boston. “We have been in Margazhi mode for more than three months. Preparations for the ecomics began even before Navaratri celebrations,” she says, adding that in a time of increased online visibility owing to the pandemic, illustrators play a crucial role in this season’s celebrations.
Creating Margazhithemed illustrations have changed the perspective of the season over the years, believes Govindarajan. Understanding the thiruppavai or dissecting Andal’s message every season for a young crowd is a deeply philosophical experience. “These illustrations have contributed to my spiritual evolution. I hope my art helps kids also find answers as they go forward in their own spiritual journey,” she says.