Celebrating Chennai: Madras, Chennai

What is in a name? It is Madras Day and we are celebrating Chennai. It is not just 10 years of old order changing to new because the new was actually the old. And Madras was always Chennai in Tamizh. Why does the name Madras create such warmth while Chennai gets brushed off as a labelling gimmick? I think for the age groups that are most vocal on this subject, the name Madras is an evocative symbol of their own glorious memories, of childhood, of youth, of belonging. Chennai fiddles with all those carefully preserved images. It signifies change, it seems less charming in comparison because it refers to the present. I think that is why some of us still say, “It is Madras not Chennai.”

The spirit of this city has been alive through its various labels; when we celebrate Chennai, we also celebrate the legacy that Madras evokes. When we celebrate Chennai we also celebrate its industrial and social transformations, its rapid morphing into a concrete commercial hub with lush green pockets of life. That is why when we say Happy Birthday Madras, we cheer for the spirit of Chennai.

This day is as much about us as it is about the structures around us. Celebrate the spirit!

1 Comment so far

  1. AB (unregistered) on August 23rd, 2006 @ 7:45 am

    Just like an established company suffers due to name change after a merger, I hope Chennai does not. I think we should just stick to Madras. Everyone in the world still think its Madras whereas some in Chennai think its Chennai.

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