August 22 – Madras Day

Posted on August 22, 2018

The celebration of the Indian city of Madras was big-time in 1939. After all, that was the 300th birthday of the city!

(Most people agree that on August 22, 1639, the East India Company purchased the village of Madraspatnam, also known as Chennapatnam. A few people claim that it was on July 22, 1639 instead.)

The 350th birthday, in 1989, was also a pretty big celebration.

But in 2004, some journalists and historians decided, why not celebrate EVERY year?

And the event has grown and grown and grown. Madras Day has become so popular, it has stretched into Madras Week and even Madras Month. The main events are exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, heritage walks, and contests and quizzes. There are other events as well - in 2014, there were more than 100 events spread out over about a month. There are songs especially composed for the celebration, bicycle rides, poetry readings, public performances, food festivals...

Pant, pant!

Actually, Madras was renamed Chennai in 1996. The new name comes from the Telugu language. It seems that the name Madras was used before the British colonized India, but after India FINALLY won its independence from Great Britain, after World War II, the names of several of its cities and states have changed...some in spelling (Calcutta became Kolkata), some in exonym (Tamil-speaking people living in "Madras" always called it Chennai), some endonyms as well (Bombay became Mumbai). In general, the changes were to make the names more Indian and less British.

So...I suppose some call it Chennai Day?

Notice that the special lettering makes "madras" when the picture
is held one way, and "chennai" when it's held upside-down.

Check out colorful Chennai:

Note the enormous variation of architecture seen in the city:

Also on this date:

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