Accommodate chess players with intricate kolams

Some Chennai women have come up with artistic kolams to join Chess Olympiad celebrations

Some Chennai women have come up with artistic kolams to join Chess Olympiad celebrations

Gayathri Shankar Narayan, 54, designs ornate designs with kolams outside his residence in Mylapore every day. But when it’s a special occasion, let it be Margazhi orAadi Pooram, Ms. Narayan comes up with stunning designs to be in tune with the theme of the day.

On Friday morning, she decided to contribute in her own way to the celebrations of the chess extravaganza in the city and she beautifully created an eight by eight grid of kolam. Also, instead of just producing a chessboard, she researched, researched the final moves of a match where Grandmaster R. Praggnanandhaa scored a victory.

While the whole city is gripped by chess fever, some locals like Ms. Narayan say they want to participate with their kolams.

Kolam is poetry and meditation for me. So when I saw that the 44th Chess Olympiad was about to begin, I wanted to create something special for this event. It took almost an hour and a half to draw this Kolam,says Ms. Narayan, who also teaches Carnatic music to children. She even wrote a chapter in her doctorate on the interdependence of music and kolam.

‘A proper welcome’

Jayanthi Sridhar, a 57-year-old marketing professional, said when the city sees such a major event and hundreds of international players arrive in Chennai, it could be a good way to welcome them.

Around the chessboard and the neatly arranged pieces, she kolam had a message “This is not a game, this is the pride of Chennai”. “For me, this activity is an excellent anti-stress. When a kolam come out well, I stay happy all day,” she adds.

While many were busy drawing the usual chess boards, Thenmozhi B., a 32-year-old art teacher who saw thambithe official mascot of Olympiad in the advertisements, wanted to recreate it in her kolam. “It took me almost two hours. The face was the hardest part, but I was glad it turned out well. From food to music and dancing, players get a taste of everything. Here, I just wanted to combine our traditional art form with this sport and present it. Somewhere, if players see our kolams, they will know that the whole city is delighted to celebrate this event,” she adds.

Thambi and Manjappai

Thambi, the official mascot of the Chess Olympiad sports a manjaipai. Meendum Manjappai, an initiative of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, Government of Tamil Nadu. Through his instagram handle, he posted a photo in which Thambi can be seen having a manjappai.

In the photo, Thambi stands above a chessboard with the manjappai with the message “The right move, the right change”. This initiative is an effort launched last December to remind people of the need to stop using plastics and go back to cloth bags.

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