Every year, the month of December brings with it the promise of good weather in Chennai, where the days are less hot and the nights pleasant. For the culture enthusiasts of the city, the month also heralds the beginning of the cherished Margazhi Kutcheri Season.
The Margazhi Kutcheri (concert in Tamil) is the annual performing arts season in Chennai, when amateur and established artistes across the globe visit the coastal capital of Tamil Nadu to take part in a celebration of music and dance for two months.
Here is all that you need to know about the cultural festival:
What is Margazhi?
Margazhi is a month in the Tamil calendar which falls between December and January. This year, the month begins on December 14 and ends on January 13.
The month of Margazhi is considered to be an inauspicious month by Hindus. No wedding celebrations or functions are held in this period, and people undertake meditation and offer prayers to the almighty. Since performing music is a form of prayer and meditation, the Margazhi kutcheri season is held during this month.
What is the Margazhi music festival?
The Margazhi music festival is an annual music and dance festival conducted during the month of Margazhi. Over the years, the festival has grown and now starts as early as the last week of November and continues till mid-January.
What is the history of Margazhi Kutcheri season?
The Margazhi Kutcheri season had its origin in the 1920s, when musicians residing in Chennai (then known as Madras) decided to dedicate the month of Margazhi to music and prayer. During those days, music was often in the form of devotional offerings commonly known as ‘nama sangeerthanam’ or ‘bhajans’.
Over the years, Margazhi season has evolved into a comprehensive festival for performing arts.
What are the types of art forms performed during the festival?
Since it is a performing arts festival, the Margazhi kutcheri season features a plethora of cultural performances. Artistes hold lectures, discussions and cultural performances in Nama Sangeerthanams, Harikathas, bhajans, drama recitals, theatre productions, Carnatic music, Hindustani music, classical dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, and instrumental performances and folk art forms in sabhas (music institutions) and temples, cultural institutions, dance schools, music schools and public spaces, throughout the day.
Who performs during the festival?
With Margazhi festival being a prestigious event, both upcoming and established artistes perform. Usually, upcoming artistes who are looking to carve a niche for themselves in the world of performing arts give performances during the mornings between 10 am and 1 pm at various sabhas.
Junior artistes put up performances during the afternoons between 2 pm and 4 pm, while established and senior artistes give performances during the prime slot in the evenings between 6 pm and 8 pm. In certain cases, senior artistes may also be given the morning slot for their performances.
Who are the big artistes for Margazhi?
There are several well-known and renowned artistes who perform regularly during the Margazhi Music Festival. Some of the regulars include Sudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jayashree, Priya Sisters, T M Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Sikkil Gurucharan, Padma Subramanian, Shashank Subrahmanyan, Malladi Brothers, Roja Kannan, Neyveli Santhana Gopalan, Aruna Sairam, Chitra Visweswaran, Dr. S Sowmya, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and S Ve Sekar among others.
Where is the festival held?
The Margazhi kutcheri season is held from late November to mid-January in all sabhas, temples, cultural institutions, dance schools, music schools and public spaces such as parks and malls across Chennai. Artistes give performances in most of these places during the season.
Which are the popular sabhas for Margazhi season?
While there are hundreds of sabhas in Chennai, the top ones are The Madras Music Academy, The Indian Fine Arts Society, Tamil Isai Sangam, Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Naradha Gana Sabha, Mylapore Fine Arts Club, Nungambakkam Fine Arts Academy, Rasika Ranjana Sabha and The Kalakshetra Foundation, among other institutions.
Besides being institutes of repute, the sabhas are also famous among food enthusiasts for their lip-smacking food served during the kutcheri season.
Are performances for the Margazhi Kutcheri season free?
Most performances are free. The ticketed performances may vary from sabha to sabha. While most sabhas opt for non-ticketed shows, a few high-profile artistes’ shows are ticketed. The tickets can either be purchased in person at the sabha or online on the sabha’s website.
How to reach the venues?
All the venues where the concerts are held are easily accessible. Most of the sabhas and temples are situated on major roads with well-traversed bus routes. Concert goers can either drive to the venues or opt for public transport, such as buses, cabs or auto-rickshaws to their preferred venues.