Stella Maris College, through its various academic and co-curricular initiatives, emphasises ‘Whole Person Education’. In keeping with the objectives of the College and the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the College has initiated activities that protect and promote our rich cultural heritage. In order to help students be encouraged to preserve the finer aspects of Indian culture and heritage, every effort is made through sensitisation, training, research and practice, to instil in students a sense of pride in their culture and tradition.
With the support of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (UBCHEA), Stella Maris College (Autonomous) is working on a three-year project titled 'Promotion of Folklore, Culture and Heritage of Tamil Nadu for Sustainable Development'. The objective of the project is to create awareness, and ownership by appreciation, among students of the folklore, culture and heritage of Tamil Nadu. This will lead to a greater appreciation for, and documentation of traditions – in art, folklore, folk artistry, culture, heritage, sustainable practices and bio-cultural heritage - that will go a long way in the conservation of traditional knowledge. This initiative is expected to help students develop a connection with their roots and provide opportunities for public service and volunteerism.
PROMOTING TAMIL FOLKLORE, CULTURE AND HERITAGE OF TAMIL NADU THROUGH A QUIZ COMPETITION
Sixteen schools participated in an inter-school quiz competition on Folklore, Culture and Heritage of Tamil Nadu on August 11, 2016 at Stella Maris College. The quiz competition was part of the UBCHEA project on "Promotion of Folklore, Culture and Heritage of Tamil Nadu for Sustainable Development". The participating students belonged to classes five, six and seven. Students of the Heritage Club of the college had visited the participating schools earlier in the month and interacted with their students while making presentations and training them on the history, folklore, culture and heritage of the State.
An exhibition of posters showing the important facets of Tamil Nadu was displayed by the students of the Heritage Club at the Open Air Theatre in the college on the same day. A few Tourism departments like the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Tourism also displayed tourism brochures, posters and pamphlets on heritage sites in South India.
The participating school students were taken by the members of the Heritage Club and the Event Management Club on a Campus Walk after registration. This campus walk included a visit to the zoology department, the chemistry department, the herbal garden, the vermicompost shed and the grey water recycling plant where volunteers from the Enviro Club explained the various eco-initiatives of the college. The students were also taken to the Bank on the college campus and to the college library.
Dr. Ulaganayagi Pazhani, Associate Professor in the Department of Thamizh, Stella Maris College (Autonomous), welcomed the school students and the accompanying teachers during the inaugural to the quiz programme. She spoke to the students on the importance of our culture and the need to preserve our traditional practices. The Mime and Street Theatre Club of the college entertained the students with a presentation on 'Namma Chennai'. After the preliminary rounds, five schools made it to the final round of the quiz. The quiz, conducted by the Quiz, Debate and Current Affairs Club of the college had questions relating to history, popular culture, cinema, monuments, famous personalities and various other aspects connected with the State. The programme saw active and enthusiastic participation by students of all the schools. The first prize in the quiz was won by Chennai Higher Secondary School, Kolathur and the second prize by Sathyamurthy High School.
Luz Church 500 Years. Music Composed,Sung by S. J. Jananiy. Lyrics Prof. Dr. Ulaganayaki Pazhani
A special classical dance performance was presented by the students of Stella Maris College at the Luz Church, on Aug 15, 2016, commemorating the church’s 500th year. The music for the programme was composed, arranged and sung by Kum. S.J. Jananiy. The musical presentation was based on a song written by Dr. Ulaganayagi Pazhani, Associate Professor in the Department of Thamizh, Stella Maris College (Autonomous). The construction of the Luz Church in 1516 and the unswerving devotion of the faithful was portrayed by the dancers to soul-stirring words and melody. The dance was choreographed by Kum. Harinie Jeevitha of Sridevi Nrithyalaya. Both Kum. Jananiy and Kum. Harinie Jeevitha are ex-students of the college.
WORKSHOP BY DR SWARNAMALYA GANESH ON ‘SADIR ATTAM’
A workshop on ‘Sadir Attam’ organized by the Classical Dance Club of Stella Maris College was conducted by Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh, Director, Ranga Mandira Academy of World Dance/Performance and Indic Studies on October 1, 2016 at Stella Maris College (Autonomous). 40 dancers including dancers from the Classical Dance Club of the college and from other colleges and dance schools and a Faculty of the college participated in the workshop.
During her introduction to ‘Sadir Attam’, Dr. Swarnamalya spoke about how dance in the earlier centuries was not alienated from social life. There was no concept division of dance into ‘classical’ and ‘folk’, nor was it restricted to a particular class of society. Through a brief glimpse into the lives of a few of her teachers from whom she had imbibed the nuances of Sadir, she was able to bring home to the audience, the life of a dancer during the earlier centuries and the context of the dance pieces they performed. Having set the tone and context to the dance, Dr. Swarnamalya and her team taught the participants the ‘Salamu Shabdam’ which was part of the then repertoire and emphasizes the inclusive nature of dance in the earlier centuries. Draping a saree organically for a performance as practised earlier, was also demonstrated.
The workshop ended with the participants receiving a certificate of participation. This workshop was organized as part of an institutional project on ‘Promotion of Folklore, Culture and Heritage of Tamil Nadu for Sustainable Development’ supported by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.
WORKSHOP ON NAATU PURA PAADALGAL
“Folk songs are an expression of emotions. Whether sung while performing mundane chores or during a particular ritual in a wedding, they bring out the gravity of the moment and the feelings of the singer. The mood is reflected in the tunes too”.
The workshop on ‘Naatupura Paadalgal’ was a unique experience for the sixteen participating students. Organized by the Enviro Club and the Light Music Club of Stella Maris College on 26 November 2016, this workshop is one of a series organized as part of the institutional project on “Promotion of Folklore, Culture and Heritage of Tamil Nadu for Sustainable Development” supported by the United Board for Christian Education in Asia.
The resource person Dr. R.Kaleeswaran, is the Director of the Alternate Media Center and also the Coordinator for Art and Literature Programmes at Loyola College (Autonomous), Chennai.
During the workshop, the students learnt songs related to nature, songs sung while playing games, songs of separation, of grief, of love, and songs sung on a variety of occasions such as harvest time, marriage, etc. There were songs that described the rain and the value of trees. Some of these songs are taught to children in schools so that they can easily learn the names of vegetables, fruits and the concept of numbers. At the end of the workshop, the participants interacted with Dr. Kaleeswaran who answered various questions relating to the origin and other aspects of the folk songs.
WORKSHOP ON KATTAIKOOTHU
MIME & STREET THEATRE CLUB
‘Kattaikoothu’ derives its name from the word kattai, which refers to the special ornaments worn by the actors during performances; koothu refers to theatre. The audience recognizes the various characters by the shapes of their head wear and their make-up.
Kattaikkoothu was previously performed in rural Tamil Nadu but with the advent of cinema, the art is fading for want of patronage. The performers of this art form belong to families that have passed on the art from one generation to the next. They know no other trade. The Mime and Street Theatre Club, Stella Maris College aims at promoting and reviving this fading art form. Traditionally performed by males, an attempt is being made to stage women performers and use this medium to create awareness on social issues.
Three workshops have been held so far.
Workshop I– September 3, 2016
Dr. Kaleeswaran Director, Alternate Media Centre, Chennai, oriented the students on the history and basic concepts of Kattaikoothu. He energised the students by sharing his insights, motivating them to preserve this and other art forms and congratulating them on the significant contribution they were making in reviving this art form. It was discouraging to know that where previously there were 200 teams all over Tamil Nadu that performed Kattaikoothu, the present number is 20-24 teams. This Dr. Kaleeswaran attributed to the influence of cinema.
The student group is privileged to be trained by Mr. Ramakrishnan from Dharmapuri. Popularly known as the ‘Therukoothu Kalaignar’, Mr. Ramakrishnan belongs to a family of artists. He is the Co-ordinator of ‘Therukoothu’ artists in Tamil Nadu. He was awarded the ‘Kalaimamani’ title by former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalaam. In a very emotional talk with the students, Mr. Ramakrishnan recollected the past when artists were held in high esteem for their talent and entertained the village folk on invitation by the village elders of respective villages. He shared his pain at the present status of indifference being meted out to the art which in turn was affecting their livelihood. Mr. Ramakrishnan shared the impact of the changed life situation of artists and his involvement in helping artists avail themselves of schemes and benefits from the Government of India.
The students were oriented to the basics of Kattaikoothu and Gummi and helped in rehearsing the dialogues from the mythological stories of Aaravali and Suravali .
Workshop II October 7, 2016 & November 28, 2016
Dr. Kaleeswaran oriented the group on movements and dialogue. The group initially found it difficult to get accustomed to the rigorous movements but has since made significant progress.