Chithra Madhavan temple talk

The Madras Week this year was celebrated no less than others despite the Covid-19 situation. People from across the city have enthusiastically taken initiatives to conduct workshops and lectures online. The Temples of Madras – is one such online lecture by Dr. Chitra Madhavan, which took place on August 20, 2020.

IDr Chithra Madhavan
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Dr. Chithra Madhavan has an M.A. and M.Phil. from the Department of Indian History, University of Madras, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore. She is the recipient of two post-doctoral fellowships from the Department of Culture, Government of India, and from the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi.  Dr. Chithra is a guest lecturer at many institutions in Chennai, such as Kalakshetra Foundation, the Arts Management programme of Dakshin Chitra, and the Asian College of Journalism. She frequently delivers lectures on heritage-related topics in various places in India. She has also authored around seven books that mainly talk about the cultural and historical background of the country.

The lecture on August 20, 2020, lasted for an hour and a half, showcasing the glory of the Hindu temples in and around Chennai city. The session was on Zoom and YouTube with around 150 participants of all age groups. The Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) – Chennai Chapter had organised the lecture.

temple entrance

Throughout the presentation, Dr. Chithra displayed a deep appreciation for the art and history of the temple and the architecture and the workmanship in them. She covered mainly four of the prominent temples in and around the city, namely; Kapaleeshwarar temple, Mylapore, Parthasarathy Swami temple, Triplicane, Adhi Pureeswarar temple, Thiruvottriyoor and Marundeeswarar temple, Thiruvanmyur. Though these temples are quite infamous for their rich processions and the large crowds that attend them, the lecture was an insight into their lesser-known cultural and mythical history.

Dr. Chithra said, “In the rush that we enter and exit a temple, often times we miss out n the intricacy and the work on the temple doors’’. She was extremely child friendly, so much that she narrated stories of the past that grasped the attention of not only young viewers but older ones too. In the due course of her presentation, one could learn the reason behind the various entries and exits a temple has, why and how temples got the name they possess today, the position of different idols and the significance of their positions, statues and different forms of the same statue, the chariots and procession deities and incredible historical pieces of evidence derived from inscriptions on walls, pillars and ceilings. She even compared a few sculptures in the temple at Thiruvottriyoor to those in Hampi.

In the end, she also encouraged a question-answer session which showcased the audiences’ keen interest in the subject, Her incredible knowledge in the field and most importantly the rich culture and heritage this city possesses proved an eye-opener to many of the participants.

Renowned dancer and choreographer Revathi Ramachandran, Director of Kalakshetra, gave the vote of thanks to the talk.