Unmindful of the hot sun on their backs, a bunch of school boys stood in the Gandhi Thidal and sketched a lighthouse on a large white panel. Just a few feet behind them, against the bright blue sky, rose the 19th century lighthouse that they were trying to recreate.
The boys from Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Government Boys Higher Secondary School were among the mixed group of participants -ranging from toddlers and moms to high school and architecture students- who came to showcase their love for Pondicherry’s rich heritage at the opening event of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival 2018.
This year, the festival replaced a formal grand inauguration with a community building exercise that let Pondicherrians showcase their love for the city by painting together. Each panel was not just an explosion of colours reflecting Pondicherry’s vibrant hues but also reflected its diverse built heritage. “We are here because we are proud of our city’s heritage”, said Yuvashree, a working professional who came to the event with her colleagues.
“My painting is to demonstrate that we need to cherish our heritage like our eyes,” said Sowmya Gopalakrishnan, a self-taught artist whose painting was an impressive metaphor with monuments grouped around a single eye. Adding a graffiti-like effect to her canvas, was the work of her daughter Atchaya and the youngest participant of the festival, 3-year-old Nairithi , who had a wonderful time dipping their brushes in colour and painting what they fancied on the edges of the panel.
“We have tried to depict a variety of landmarks in and around Pondichery like Irumbai Koil, Matri Mandir and the Sacred Heart Basilica,” said a student from Amalarpovam School, whose team worked in harmony on different sections of a panel. “We practised for 2 days before the event”.
Traditional architecture of Pondicherry
A few groups chose to highlight the importance of Pondicherry’s traditional styles of architecture and the emphasis they gave to ventilation and light, sorely missing today. Students from Sri Manakula Vinayagar School of Architecture , Excel College of Architecture Erode and Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan College in Perambalur and Samayapuram made bold colorful strokes on canvas , mostly depicting the intermingling of Franco Tamil architecture in Pondicherry.
MLA K. Lakshminarayanan lauded the efforts of participants in spreading awareness on heritage conservation. The completed panels would be exhibited near the site of the Mairie.
The Pondicherry Heritage Festival 2018 hosts various events including forums, cultural performances and exhibitions in a month-long calendar. All events are held in heritage spaces . The festival expands its reach outside the Boulevard Town to Bahour and Thirubhuvanai.
PondyLive is the online media partner for the festival.