Madheswaran became a self made Silambam master without any family legacy or lineage. Vandiyooran kovil thiruvizha (temple festival) was the trigger for him to resume playing Silambam again as an young adult.

Madheswaran became a self made Silambam master without any family legacy or lineage. Vandiyooran kovil thiruvizha (temple festival) was the trigger for him to resume playing Silambam again as an young adult. When he realized he couldn’t play as good as others, it became a burning desire to play and prove himself in front of his family and friends in the next year Temple festival.

Kalaithaai students playing at District Level Silambam Competition 2017 at Erode © Balamurali Krishnan
Kalaithaai students playing at District Level Silambam Competition 2017 at Erode © Balamurali Krishnan

Though he learnt Silambam from his father at an early age, Madheswaran started formally learning from a silambam master as an adult along with his kids. at this point of time he was the only adult student in ‘Kalathithaai kuzhu’ (team) which was begun by his master ‘Silambam Shanmugam’. On the day when the team had to perform in  a kovil thruvizha their vaathiyar (master) had gone missing without any information. The team somehow managed to perform without their master anchoring the performance. Kalaithaai filled with talented children couldn’t see much of a future to continue without the master. That is when Madheswaran stepped in to take the role of a mentor and  he vowed to keep the team intact. This was 10 years ago, since then Kalaithaai children has played in innumerable competitions and won countless awards.

Madheswaran stepped in to take the role of a mentor and he vowed to keep the team intact. This was 10 years ago, since then Kalaithaai children has played in innumerable competitions and won countless awards.

Project Eyam is trying to engage people with oral history of people of Tamilnadu and  through the insights of both old and young to question the mainstream perceptions and explore how this could help bring a deeper understanding about our society’s past and present. Photography and Editing by Balamurali Krishnan