Golden Jubilee Celebrations

Originally planned for September 1975, "fate and metaphysical reasons" in the form of the drought in the South, water scarcity in the city and, if we may say so, a seemingly corresponding drying up of traditional sources of funds, forced us to postpone the celebrations. With the help of Friends like Rev. Fr. Jerome D'Souza, S.J., and Rev. Fr. Theo Mathias, S.J., final confirmation of the minute-to-minute programme of the Prime Minister was received on January 1st and with barely a fortnight to go, we geared ourselves to achieve the impossible and to make the Golden Jubilee of Loyola College a time to relish for ever.

The celebrations were spread over three days : the first day focussed on the Inauguration of the Jubilee Celebrations by the Prime Minister, the second day was reserved for the former students (Alumni) of the college and the third day was given over to the staff, present students and parents. Each day began appropriately with a concelebrated mass, the main celebrant on each of the three days being the Provincial, Vice-Provincial and the Archbishop. The preachers of the homilies were Rev. Fr. Lawrence Sundaram, Rev. Fr. Gordon, S.J., and Rev. Fr. Varaprasadam, S.J. The English choir on the first two days with the Loyola lads in the fore and the Tamil Choir with Berchmans Hallers, Students and children of staff in attendance were at their best.

On the first day after mass two commemorative tablets were unveiled, one in the cemetery by Rev. Fr. Murphy, S.J., recording the names of all the Jesuits who had worked in Loyola but are interred elsewhere and the other by Fr. Jerome D'Souza on the chapel wall, in memory of our architect, the late S.A. Gnanapragasam Pillai who raised the college from a wasteland of marsh and broken terrain to its present stately dimensions.

The forenoon of each day was given over to academic pursuits. The seminar on Youth and Faith was held on the first day. It was organized by the Juniors of Berchmans Hall for students from city colleges and presided over by Rev. Fr. Varaprasadam, S.J. The seminar clearly showed how deeply concerned the youth of today were with the problems of faith and how rightly intolerant they were of forms of religiosity that were irrelevant to real-life situations.

On the second day, Mr. Rangabashyam, Secretary of Education, Government of Tamil Nadu, presided over a scholarly symposium for Teachers : "Education-2001, An Exercise in Futurology".

The forenoon programme on the third day organized by the student body included Kavi Arangam and a seminar on education. The Kavi Arangam was presided over by the doyen of Tamil Letters, Thiru K.V. Jeganathan, editor, Kalai Magal. Mr. R.K. Baratan of the Institute of P.R.M. conducted the symposium on education, "Step up Education to speed up progress", with the ease and grace of a maestro and the sure grasp of a practical scholar. Besides these programmes, the various departments of the college put on a campus-wide exhibition of quality and content that left little to be desired.

The inauguration of the Golden Jubilee by Srimathi Indira Gandhi really constituted the high point and the splendour and glory that was Loyola Jubilee. The inauguration was a piece of art, planned with meticulous care and taste and executed to near-perfection with a sense of precision and an intuitive grasp of the glory of the golden moment. The hockey ground was transformed into an open air theatre, with seating arrangements to accommodate over 8,500 specially invited guests.

After the introduction of the V.I.Ps. the Prime Minister lightly mounted the stage-steps and with a quick swing round the stage with hands folded in greeting, acknowledged the thunderous ovation of the audience. Dr Adiseshiah also released the Golden Jubilee Souvenir and presented the first copy to the Prime Minister. The Education Minister, Thiru V.R. Nedunchezhian, took the occasion of the Jubilee to elaborate upon the progress of education in Tamil Nadu and to invite educationists and teachers to join hands with the Government in achieving greater success in its efforts.

Speaking from a prepared text, the Prime Minister began with expressing her thanks for the invitation and praising the college and its staff and students for what they have made of Loyola, a centre of learning not only for the State, but also for the nation and of the world at large. Departing from the text, she threw challenges to educators to make education a useful and relevant tool for effecting the much needed changes in society to create a just social order. She added personal touch to her speech with comments about herself, her method of work, her friendship with eminent Jesuits, like Rev. Fr. Jerome D'Souza, S.J., and Rev. Fr. Theo Mathias, S.J., her interest in co-education and her determination to work for the betterment of the weaker sections of the society. From start to finish, the programme went without a hitch and it was felt that the hour and ten minutes the Prime Minister spent in the Loyola Campus passed all too soon leaving but a distilled memory of that grand historic moment.

If the first day was formal and awe-inspiring, the second day's programme with the alumni was homely and refreshingly informal. After tea the Old Boys met in Bertram Hall (a hall so familiar to them that it was often mentioned in their speeches) to hear some of our eminent former students exchange memories of Loyola days in an atmosphere of friendly give and take. Presiding over the meeting was Justice T. Ramaprasada Rao, an Old Boy. The first part of the evening's programme was given over to the Kuchipudi of the Kalashetra troupe. The artistic beauty and grace of the dance and fascinating performance of this dance-drama raised the tone of the cultural evening. The spontaneous burst of applause from the audience at curtain time indicated how well the dance-drama was received by all. A short orchestral interlude was provided by our students as a prelude to the entertainment hat followed on stage.

The third and last evening's programme was presided over by Dr. S. Chandrasekar, Vice-Chancellor of Annamalai University. Rev. Fr. Theo Mathias, S.J. Former Principal of Loyola and Member of the Indian Delegation to the United Nations, spoke on "The role of the University in a changing India".

The evening's entertainment began with a masterful display of Karagam by the Avadi Police, bringing out the high art-content of folk art. Besides orchestral music provided by our students and a virtuoso performance on the violin by a budding carnatic musician from the Pre-degree class, there was a hilarious musical interlude "The P.T.C. Bus-man!" rendered by the Galata Boys. The drama staged by the staff brought to a close the celebrations of the third and last day of the Jubilee. It was their first appearance on the stage these many years and it took the students by surprise to see their teachers romping about the stage up to their ears in a riotous comedy.