A walk to commemorate two towering poets

Under a murky sky and the occasional drizzle, a small group of enthusiasts from different spheres of life went on a heritage walk on Saturday as a tribute to the revolutionary poet-nationalist Subramania Bharati and his illustrious protégé Bharathidasan. The free guided walk ‘Cave of the Muses’, was co-hosted by Sahapedia and TASMAI, a centre for art and culture.

Walkers who assembled in front of the Romain Rolland library were led by Lata Iyer of Sahapedia through the cobbled lanes of French Quarter, past memorial statues and towards the Mahakavi Bharatiyar Museum-cum-Research Centre on Easwaran Koil Street.

For heritage buffs, the event afforded an opportunity to revisit the legacy of Bharatiar and the city-born Bharathidasan and to know more about the two stalwarts, who were bound as much by their poetic imagination as by their patriotic fervour.

In fact, the commemorative vestiges of the poets, whose 20th century verse continues to be quoted and remains very much entwined with Tamil consciousness, range from streets and statues to parks and universities in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.

“The event was not so much about recalling Bharati’s literary contributions as it had to do with shining the spotlight on Bharati’s impact on the city and vice versa, the streets he frequented or the places he stayed in,” said Ms. Iyer. Also, he and Bharathidasan shared a lot in common and had divergent views on some matters, she added. In a sense, this city was the “cave” where Bharati sought refuge to evade arrest by the British much like Sri Aurobindo did during the freedom struggle, according to Ms. Iyer.

When Pondicherry was a French-governed enclave, the city also provided refuge to Bharathi when British backlash against India’s freedom struggle was at its peak. Bharati, who was under British surveillance, is said to have changed houses multiple times. This is a city that takes pride in the fact that some of the greatest works of Bharati were composed during his stay here. The guided walk concluded at the Bharathidasan Memorial Museum on Perumal Koil Street.

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