August 14, 2016
While the entire nation is awaiting the celebrations of the nation’s 70th Independence Day, a small colony of people living on the outskirts of Coimbatore city have turned the celebrations into a village festival, thanks to the youths of the area.
Housing more than 300 families, the Nanjama Naidu Layout near Perur, is a silent neighbourhood on any other day. But come Independence Day, and the people of the area gather to celebrate it like a festival, with cultural functions, theme-based discussions, debates, and competitions for children.
The idea to celebrate the occasion in such a socially-unifying way was started by school-going youths in 2007, when they hoisted the national flag, in a small ceremony, in one of the streets in the area.
“At first it was started very innocently. We hoisted the flag and distributed sweets and chocolates to the children in the neighbourhood. We did the same the following year too. Our elder brothers and sisters gave us the idea to take this up seriously and make it big,” reminisces S. Hari Ganesh, one of the youths who founded the festival.
He further adds that the ceremony began as a low-budget fare because they were still in school. The event got bigger each year, especially after they graduated and became employed.
“We later started pooling in ideas, and with the help of the local administration, we were able to bring in resources persons to talk on various topics including terrace gardening, organ donation, blood donation, and yoga. This year, we had a speaker on Silambam,” he informs.
G. Manikandan, another youth, claims that they have plans to organise blood donation and health check-up camps in the future.
“The idea is to unite the people and make this event bigger. Now, 300 people are participating. In the future, we want to add to that number as much as possible,” says Manikandan.
One of the interesting aspects of the celebrations is the various competitions and cultural events held for children, including running races and dance programmes.
“We also allow children to give orations on various topics and also recite Tamil couplets like Thirukkural,” adds S. Jagadeesh, another youth.
The celebrations end with a delicious feast, open for all the participants and onlookers. “The event is very regaling and encourages us to make it big each year. This will only grow with time, and carry on for a long time,” Hari Ganesh opines.