For all of us here at Margazhi.org, the first edition of the Moods of Margazhi contest has occupied our thoughts, minds & actions for several months now. As in any event, the weeks of planning and nervous waiting for the entries to roll in have well been worth it.

Our inspiration for the contest was simply this: The Margazhi season is so magical & unique that it truly deserves to be captured for posterity in every possible way. And the people of Chennai seemed to agree. Because the response from participants and voting public has been really fantastic.

Along with our contest partners, The Hindu online team, we’ve been glued to www.thehindushutterbug.com and the last 10 days have been especially exciting with a lot of “late-to-the-party” participants adding some wonderful photos to the collection. Admittedly, the artists category received the maximum number of entries and you may have already seen many of these pictures shared on our FB pages. We were really glad we had a great panel of judges lined up to help pick out the winners, because that task was well truly beyond us. Being so close to the contest, we were falling in love with so many images every single day.

On 17th January, our five esteemed judges met up for half a day of viewing at one of the city’s clubs. See all judges’ profiles here in our previous blog post.

We owe them a debt of gratitude for taking the time to be with us and willingly participate in the exercise. They gave their time and energy so willingly and collaborated so well to handle the evaluation ordeal that we actually enjoyed the process.

The Judges’ discussion got off to a truly bright start. Given that this is the first photo contest that spans the entire gamut of activities in the music season, we got some great pointers from the judges on aspects to watch out for. (This was a truly valuable discussion because you can be sure that Moods of Margazhi will return every year in an bigger and better annual edition 🙂 ) For instance how to increase coverage across wider sabhas / venues.

Banter during the judging rounds included comparing notes on who ate what at which sabha canteen. We had one of the judges verifying one of the pictures as it was a dish the judge had personally tried during the season ! We had some agonising moments when we had to reject some pictures which our professional photo experts in the panel identified as over-processed and hence not admissible. Copyright and illegal recording of concerts was an inevitable topic of discussion too – especially because a few photos were actually “caught red-handed” shots taken by participants which showed some people recording on their mobiles !

It was stunning to see many of the images in larger screen format coz we were so used to seeing them on our laptops every day. Made all of us eager to see the final print versions in the exhibition.

We were a tad bit disappointed that there were only few entries for the venues category. Especially since some sabhas are known for their painstaking stage decor efforts. On a related note, Kolams were the wild card entries this time – since we did not have a separate category this year, we had accepted Kolam photos under Venues. While the kolam photos did not meet the contest category norms, we felt that many of the kolam pictures were lovely and quite representative of one key aspect of Margazhi month in Chennai. We therefore decided to include a special collection of these for the Exhibition so that we could recognise and appreciate those participants too.

The largest number of entries proved to be in the Artists category. Some amazing pics competed for the top slots and it is a pity we could not give more prizes in this category. As it is, we did manage to add a 3rd prize for this category although we only had 2 prizes planned per category initially.

At the end of the half day and as we broke for lunch, we were mostly wishing we had more wall space in the gallery so that we could have more pictures to commemorate the Moods of Margazhi. It has been a truly amazing journey for us and we are going to cherish each and every photo we have gained through this contest. Thanks to every participant who gave their time & creative energy towards Moods of Margazhi.

We are especially thankful to have worked together with Lata Ganapathy-Ravikiran and her team at the online edition of The Hindu – Anand & Vignesh.

The concept of Moods of Margazhi ofcourse is a reality because our sponsors gave it their complete backing. Thank you Sarangi – for giving not only time but precious resources of people to support key tasks. Thank you Rasvihar & AM Infrastructure for coming on board as co-sponsors.

Special thanks to Mr.Sharad and Ms.Archana Kalpathi of AGS Cinemas who supported with publicity. The Moods of Margazhi exhibition also enjoys additional support from Leo Coffee, ITC MAngaldeep and Chennaigaga – all of whom have supported with prizes or give-aways for our winners & finalists.

And of course a special thank you to you – our Margazhi.org patron. Your support and encouragement is greatly valued by us.

If you’re in Chennai, please do visit the Moods of Margazhi between 21st – 23rd January 2013 at the Art Houz Gallery, Kasturi Rangan Road, Alwarpet, Chennai. Voting is still open online and also at the exhibition for one final prize – the Peoples ‘ Choice Award for the most popular photograph.

Stay tuned to Margazhi.org.