In a First, IIT Madras’ Annual Cultural Fest Saarang goes completely Online this year


Chennia: IIT Madras’ Annual Cultural Fest Saarang is going to be held completely online this year for the first time in its history. The theme of Saarang 2021 is ‘Vintage Vogue’ with the students taking a trip down the memory lane this year, and going retro.

The fest is going to be held between 4th and 7th February 2021. All events would be available for the public to view online free of cost.

One of the largest student-run festivals in India, Saarang, which has ISO 9001:2015 certification, usually hosts more than 100 events and attracts a footfall of around 80,000 from over 500 colleges across the country. This is the 26th anniversary of the event being renamed as ‘Saarang’ from the earlier banner of ‘Mardi Gras.’

Being among the first student-run festivals in the country to go completely online, Saarang 2021 presents a unique experience to all its participants. The cultural fest kicks off with the ‘Classical Night’ on 4th February 2021 with a performance by ‘Carnatic 2.0.’

Highlighting the unique aspects of Saarang 2021, Prof. Nilesh J. Vasa, Dean (Students), IIT Madras, said, “It is quite exciting and challenging to arrange the Saarang event of such a kind online with the same spirit which we used to have in the past.”

Another feather in Saarang’s cap is the ‘Spotlight lectures,’ for which the line-up includes the cast of famous Indian Television series Scam 1992 and several other illustrious names from diverse fields such as chess Grandmaster Mr. Vishwanathan Anand, popular and film director Mr. Gautham Menon, eminent writer Mr. Ramachandra Guha, and noted Bharatanatyam dancer Ms. Leela Samson.

Speaking about Saarang 2021, Prof. Arshinder Kaur, Faculty Advisor (Cultural), IIT Madras, said, “The event is with the theme of something best from the past nostalgic moment, which should provide an opportunity to reach out to wider audience including alumni of the Institute.”

The night of 5th February brings the best EDM (Electronic Dance Music) lineup with ‘22 Bullets’ being the lead act. The fest is all set to rock the crowd with contemporary Indian ensemble ‘The Yellow Diary’ taking the lead on 6th February. Having set the rostrum for ace Bollywood singers, the ‘Popular Night’ on 7th February is at the top of everyone’s bucket list. Bollywood Star Singer Ms. Jonita Gandhi will be the lead artist for the night.

Sharing their experience of organizing an event completely online, Mr. Katari Harshal Amith Vishwanath, Cultural Affairs Secretary (Arts), said, “This year, we worked on a completely new version of Saarang, seeking to provide a wonderful and memorable experience to all our participants and audience, despite the challenges we faced during the pandemic.”

Adding to this, Mr. Bonthu Vishnu Sanketh, Cultural Affairs Secretary (Literary), said, “The new normal has given us a chance to reflect upon what’s at the core of Saarang’s existence and it’s this environment of creative energy and intimate connection with art and entertainment that we’ve aimed to create during the four days of Saarang, irrespective of the form or medium.”

This year, the Saarang team has undertaken a Social Responsibility Campaign named ‘Mann,’ which aims to create awareness on mental health issues as a first step towards destigmatizing the issue through sustained efforts. As part of Mann, Saarang conducted various webinars with eminent therapists and psychologists. The Students Team also organized a live series with various mental health specialists.

The Saarang Team also launched a unique comic series based on mental health struggles of a group of students and compiled numerous mental health resources.