If ever there was a win-win-win situation in the world it is this marriage of the sabhas and those who run the sabha canteens during the music season. December, in the Hindu tradition, is not an auspicious time for weddings. Thus, the caterers who handle the cooking for weddings are normally bereft of orders in this period. It is these caterers – and the crème de la crème of them – who take on the job of providing food during the music season.
Most major sabhas have an all day schedule. It is, thus, inevitable that they need the services of the caterers to keep their audiences happy with food and beverages. The caterers, in their turn, not only find a market but also use this period for a practical advertisement of their capabilities thereby paving the way for future orders.
And the audience? The audience gets sumptuous food at very affordable prices, gets to relish dishes not normally served in hotels and also, maybe, finds the right caterer for future weddings. To my knowledge, this is the only advertisement that provides value to the customer as much as to the producer.
There is a huge section of Chennai dwellers whose only knowledge of the Music season is where to go for food. In fact, quite a few people come to the sabhas only to eat or pack up food and totally ignore the rest of what happens at that time. All that they are concerned about is whether ‘Mountbatten’ Mani Iyer’s meals were better than ‘Padmanabha’ or whether Narada Gana Sabha had Gnanambika for this season or not.
Do you smell a bit of envy there? If you did I must laud your nostrils! Thanks to a fractured right hand, I could hardly try out these delicacies in this season – eating with my left hand off plantain leaves not being my forte – so, you can hardly blame me for the vituperation against those who were fortunate enough to be able to relish the food.
For the out-of-towner December can be a great culinary experience in addition to being a great cultural experience. And, believe me, Chennai in December may not be truly as hot as you fear it will be.