Chennai Sangamam, a cultural extravaganza which served as the political launchpad for DMK’s Kanimozhi Karunanidhi in 2007, will make a comeback to this metropolis this Pongal with over 700 artists of various folk arts of Tamil Nadu set to perform for five days.
The 2023 edition will have a new addition, a food festival that will allow Chennaiites to taste traditional flavours and cuisine from different parts of Tamil Nadu. Pongal will be celebrated from January 14 to January 17 this year.
Chennai Sangamam, which is the brainchild of the DMK deputy general secretary and Thoothukudi MP, was first held in 2007. However, it was discontinued from 2012 after the AIADMK came to power the previous year. The festival served as the launchpad for Kanimozhi’s political career.
After coming to power in 2021, the DMK organized a festival of folk arts in January 2022 under a new name Namma Ooru Thiruvizha. However, this year, the festival has been rechristened as Chennai Sangamam — Namma Ooru Thiruvizha, with Kanimozhi as the coordinator.
Kanimozhi coordinating the festival is significant as it comes close on the heels of Udhayanidhi, Stalin’s son, being inducted into the Cabinet. By allowing Kanimozhi to coordinate the events that will be held across Chennai during Pongal, Stalin seems to be sending a signal that she will not be overlooked, politically, and he will strike a balance between his son and sister.
The five-day cultural festival will be inaugurated by Chief Minister M K Stalin at the Island Grounds on January 13 with a spectacular performance by over 160 artists.
“Tamil Nadu will be flooded with festivals in the month of January. Chennai Sangamam – Namma Ooru Thiruvizha will be held in 16 locations across the state capital from January 14 to January 17. Over 700 artists will participate in this cultural festival,” Thangam Thenarasu, Industries, Tamil Culture and Archaeology Minister, said.
Artists from states like West Bengal, and Assam will also perform their traditional art at these events, he added.
Kanimozhi said Chennai Sangamam is now a government festival, unlike the previous edition, which was organized by private organisations. “There will be continuity this time as it is a government festival. The artists will perform in 16 parks and grounds in the city. We will also be organising a food festival at all locations. We are excited,” she said.
The DMK leader added that a few Carnatic musicians will also perform at some of the venues while the inaugural event will be curated by music director Santhosh Narayanan.
B Chandra Mohan, Principal Secretary (Tourism, Culture and Religious Endowments Department), said almost all folk arts of the state including Paraiattam, Mayilattam, Oyilattam, and Karakattam. “Folk arts that originate in Tamil Nadu will be performed during the festival. We also have artists from other states performing,” he said.