City lights

A city deserves to celebrate its birthday. And Madras, that is Chennai, certainly deserves it.

But it has to be factual, backed by history and, moreover, should celebrate the real tradition and culture of this metropolis, and not something associated with its slavery past.

It may be true that it was on 22 August 1639, that a piece of land, where Fort St George stands today was transacted by the East India Company. But it certainly does not qualify to become Madras Day.

For, the city’s history dates back to more than 2,000 years ago.

Madras did not come into existence after the deal ‘was struck by Francis Day, his ‘dubash’ Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan, with the local Nayak rulers’.

It was only because there was already a thriving coastal city, the British wanted to set up their base here. Thiruvalluvar was born here (Mylapore) two millennium ago, his immortal product Thirukkural was penned here, temples of Kapaleeswarar and Parthasarathy were constructed here many centuries ago, the city has found a mention in many hoary literary works and the list goes on.

With these being the facts, it is not just unacceptable, but unfathomable as to why a few groups are hell bent on celebrating a day which marked the beginning of the city becoming a colony of foreigners.

The British had vacated the place long back, but it seems they still have an indelible place in the hearts of self-styled historians, who are distorting facts, disturbing the rich past of Chennai and destroying its legacy.