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December Festival of Music and Dance

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Margazhi Maha Utsavam

The pleasant month of December is a pleasant treat for every music lover in Chennai. The stage gets set for all artistes, from veterans to budding musicians and dancers to enthrall lovers of music and dance with their performances. Marghazhi is that time of the year when patrons of the arts come in droves, flowing silks and all, to music sabhas and dance recitals.

Marghazhi festival of dance and music

In December 1927, The Indian National Congress party held an All India conference on music and dance along with their regular party conference. This event was held at the Madras Music Academy in Chennai thus leaving back a tradition that has been practiced and upheld till date. Later all the sabhas in the city began conducting music and dance performances in the month of Marghazhi.

With growing interest amongst the public and with fresh talents in the field of music and dance, it is not surprising to find many a pleasant surprise. More than 200 participants from various parts of India take part in the cultural fete. While South Indian languages Tamil, Telugu and Kannada dominate the show, of late talents from the Hindustani stream of musicians are seen.

Junior artists perform during the morning and afternoon sessions while senior artistes perform during the evenings. Young singers are introducing new instruments such as the mandolin, saxophone and guitar (all of western origin) along with other traditional instruments. Carnatic music is a Vedic art and thus there can be hardly any alterations made to the original form of the music. But dancers are trying to bring in new concepts by introducing dance dramas and celluloid classics. The concerts begin with a varnam and lead the audience through kirtanas and all the ragas are based on the 72 main ragas with permitted variations of each raga. The concerts last up to a maximum of three hours.

There are numerous sabhas in Chennai and top-notch artists perform in these sabhas according to the time slot allotted to each one of them. Few places do not charge an entry fee while typical charges range between Rs.50 to Rs.500 for each performance. The seating capacity of the hall varies from one place to the other and usually can accommodate no less than 300 people. There are 102 sabhas in Chennai; few of the famous sabhas are listed below.

  • Indian Fine Arts Society

  • Kalarasana

  • Mudra Fine Arts

  • Nadha Inbam

  • Narada Gana Sabha

  • Nungambakkam Cultural Academy

  • Rasika Ranjani Sabha

  • Sri Krishna Gana Sabha

  • Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

  • Sri Thyaga Brahma

  • Gana Sabha Tamil Isai Sangam

  • Madras Music Academy

The entire music season is run by sponsors and from funds provided by well known IT companies. With more and more NRIs showing interest and taking active part in the Marghazhi festival, the month of December is regaining its old charm and essence.

December Festival of Music and Dance