A carnival for women and children

The campus of Bright Minds Vidyodaya School at Walajapet, in the suburbs of Chennai, resonated with conversation, laughter and cheer as D 3231, for the first time, hosted a zestful celebration exclusively for women Rotarians, Rotary Anns and Annets. The event brought to the fore their talent and showcased the power of Rotarian spouses in the district. Dubbed Magalir Mattum (Exclusive for women), this day-long event was packed with activities, fashion, food and fun.

Children dressed up for a fancy dress competition.
Children dressed up for a fancy dress competition.

“I have always been asked by the wives of club presidents and other Rotarians: Is there anything for us in Rotary? This was my little idea of getting the women involved,” says Sujatha Chandra Bob, spouse of DG Chandra Bob, and organiser of the event. In his address, DG Chandra Bob welcomed the spouses and thanked them for their support to their Rotarian husbands. “Thank you for understanding us and helping us do our best in serving society,” he said.

Sujata, a past president of Rotary E-Club of Chennai, wanted to “engage women in the district in fellowship and networking. When women get together and have meaningful conversation about Rotary, it induces interest in them to join Rotary and do wonders together.” Apart from it being a day-out for the women “this event brought to everyone’s notice the talent of those who never had a platform to perform or showcase their talent,” she added.

Women Rotarians must meet Rotary spouses at a personal level, talk to them about the goodness of Rotary and encourage them to become Rotarians.
– Sujatha Chandra Bob

Children transformed into their favourite cartoon character for the fancy dress competition, even as their mothers prompted from backstage the lines they had forgotten. “He hasn’t had much time to prepare,” quipped a mother backstage. From applying make-up and dressing up their children who were participating in various events, to cheering them, Anns and women Rotarians were seen promptly reporting at the competition desk and completing their task in time. “Which means we are already blessed with time management and multi-tasking skills. Imagine if we could bring these skills to Rotary. Most women do not even know they have such skills. This event will help them understand that,” said Event Chair Nandhini Nirmal.

Women in colourful pattu (silk) saris weaved through the crowd visiting the many stalls set up in the school’s playground. They thronged the clothing, accessories and mehndi stalls, while the Annets buzzed around the food and games stalls. The earthenware and home accessories stalls saw a good number of footfalls. “All the stalls were set up by Rotarians or their spouse to promote their business and help them network,” said Sujatha.


Facial at 50

One of the stalls displayed cosmetic products for sale and beside it was a facial counter at ₹50. Uma Mageshwari, who was in charge, lured the crowd by frequently announcing “Facial at ₹50.” When asked if she was doing good business, she laughed and replied, “Initially people were hesitant. But after seeing a woman getting a facial done, many more lined up.” By the evening she had done over 60 facials, while a mehndi stall closed after beautifying 120 hands.

From L: Sujatha Chandra Bob, Usha Ajith Prasad and Event Chairperson Nandhini Nirmal.
From L: Sujatha Chandra Bob, Usha Ajith Prasad and Event Chairperson Nandhini Nirmal.

On stage, scenes shifted from singing to dancing competitions, with the audience frequently breaking into a dance. The participants posed for selfies, which quickly went online with the #magalirmattum. The vegetable carving stall had attractive models of a skeleton with capsicum ribs, a pumpkin basket full of carrot flowers, dolls made from onions and cucumber, an apple swan and other such elaborate fruit and vegetable carvings done by participants.

Another off-stage event that appealed to everyone was the Kuthuvilakku (bronze lamp) decoration. In Hindu culture, the kuthuvilakku is of religious significance and part of daily worship. “So, this competition has given the participants and spectators new ideas to try at home,” said Past President Usha Ajith Prasad of RC Tambaram Central, D 3231. From elaborate settings to a simple Radha and Krishna, the lamps were decorated under a limited time frame by the participants.

Lunch at the carnival was an elaborate affair too, even though only vegetarian. “Because it is the holy Tamil month of Puratasi many of us refrain from eating non-veg food. But there is a variety to choose from at the vegetarian buffet,” Sujatha added. Post lunch, women walked the ramp and danced together. Winners were felicitated and as a parting tradition, they were given bangles and kumkum. “If we want women to join Rotary, we have to offer them a friend. This is only possible when women in Rotary meet Rotary spouses at a personal level and talk to them about the goodness of Rotary, and that was the goal of Magalir Mattum,” said Sujatha, who hopes that this will be an annual affair where “women can meet, talk, enjoy and eventually join Rotary.”

Pictures by Kiran Zehra

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