Happy Streets of Madurai
When I received a message request from my friend RJ Ramana of Mirchi FM Radio Channel in Madurai to participate in the Happy Street Program in Madurai on 14th May 2017, I never imagined that it would really be a day of unwinding from the hectic professional life.
It was a certainly a day that residents from Kamarajar Salai came out of their concrete jungle homes and took to the busy arterial road to play games that one could never imagine to play on a normal day. By the way Kamarajar Salai in Madurai connects city to Ramanathapuram Highway and is intricately crowed with shops and establishments which is even more thickly populated with residences since it has close proximity to the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple.
Happy Street as a novel concept to promote camaraderie among the people and bring about togetherness in coming out for a common cause to refresh and rejoice within their own environment is a welcome step. Kudos to the energetic Commissioner of Madurai Corporation for hitting upon a fantastic idea and implementing it with the support of Corporate Sponsors, Media Houses and the Civic Administration.
The response to the Happy Street Program was enormous from the public as they made use of the space to come out to let their spirits and energy enthusiastically be engaged in an activity of their liking, most importantly something that was far from their mundane daily life. It was heartening to see people of all ages throng the location, which was cordoned off from vehicular traffic and take centre stage to display their talents in various games like Basket ball netting, Shuttle Cock, Table Tennis, Carrom Boards and Skipping.
Youngsters were excited to display their skills in roller skating, Trampoline Jumping and Archery. The Youth got an opportunity to play Cricket with Tennis Ball on the cement road which was a dream pitch to stroke around. The Cycling Team with their gears were doing synchronized cycling that was a treat to the eyes of the audience and passerby.
Professional Boxers were giving an opportunity for the young to throw a few punched with the boxing gloves on, something that we do not see too often in a place like Madurai. Gymnastics was also part of the game on display, as young persons were seen trying their luck on the pole by scaling it and balancing themselves on the top of it. Spinning of Tops was a treat to the eyes and a surprise package, since not many know the trick to get it on their palms to spin off.
The Organisers were able to get the crowd to do some on the spot dancing with live bands playing out Western Songs and popular film songs. Certainly ‘Mustaffa ....Mustaffa’ Song from AR Rehaman got the crowd to wave their hands in unison to get a magic effect. Celebrity playback singers also lent their voice by performing hit songs on the stage. An young girl just jumped on stage to do a graceful dance synchronizing with the tune of ‘Alegra....Alegra’ Song which was very well sung on stage. The crowd that swelled around the stage were also doing some graceful moments for each song.
The Radio Jockeys led by RJ Ramana did some fantastic fast paced dances with the crowd pulling in participants from all ages. RJ Jackson Durai and RJ Kalyani too added grace to the dance party. This apart there were choreographers from the Cine World who kept the audience engrossed to their dance movements with various dance groups.
The mobile phones were the busy gadgets since Selfies dominated the day, with every bit of the proceedings getting a gentle click by all. No one was left in the crowd. It was hilarious to witness people sporting coloured hair wigs and taking / posing for selfies on their mobiles. Guess how many mobiles did go dry with batteries burning out of the charge.
The Happy Street was not confined to just Games and Fun, on a serious note there were many social themes on which awareness was spread through to the public. Noticeable among them was Effective Consumption of Water, Environment Protection, Planting of Trees, Organic Food and Healthy Civic Lifestyle etc. A Mobile Blood Donation Van was also stationed at the location to get the public to do donate blood and save life. Soups and Food items were also part of the package to keep the public attracted.
On a personal note, I felt elated when I had a chance to meet up with some of my family friends like M. Rajesh of Guna Vilas, Sivanath and Nitin Shah from Classic Readymades. My friend Gnanagugan was up with his family for the program and even tried his skill in ‘Stick Fight’. I was able to meet up with Media friends like Edwin, Photographers Selvam Ramasamy and OSD Suresh. Suresh even got me pose for a snap, which was a cute remembrance, so did Deepika who shot me in action.
The thrill to be on a busy road for three hours on a Sunday morning with the public of Madurai was a pleasant opportunity. The mini carnival sort of program would eventually benefit if more colour and content is added in the ensuing editions to represent the cultural advantage that a city like Madurai has. It would be on comparable lines very soon with the carnivals that takes place in many cities around India and abroad.
For now the tagline of the Happy Street program in Madurai “Vanidiya Vaarthu.....Vanthu Vilayadu” (Vehicles will not come.....Come and Play) shall remain as a memorable one!