Run-Up to Saarang 2023

Even as the 26th edition of Saarang drew to a close in January 2020, there was an immediate sense of anticipation for the coming year. The festival has acquired somewhat of an iconic status in South India partly because of it’s sheer scale and scope, and the organizing team at IIT Madras has always strived to live up to that name and reputation.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to life as we knew it and Saarang had to move online for two years as the world struggled to recuperate from the devastating impact of the virus. The 28th edition of Saarang, to be held from 11th-15th January 2023, marks a return to the old ways as Saarang is finally being held entirely offline in all its splendor and glory.

The organizing team is not pulling any stops in making this resurgence one to remember, with more events than ever before and a stacked cast of personalities visiting the campus for performances and talks during the fest.

In this piece, we take a look back at ‘Mardi Gras’, a new(yet old) cultural festival held in October to give a small taste of what to expect from Saarang 2023.

The weekend of 14th October, 2022 saw an old name re-enter the insti parlance as Mardi Gras, a three day cultural festival meant to be a precursor to Saarang, provided some much needed respite from the hectic Quiz-2 schedule. 

Friday marked “Day-0” of the fest as food stalls were set up outside OAT and the Writing Club conducted a performance poetry workshop at the SAC foyer.

The fest kicked into full gear on Saturday as multiple Sangam cubs held events and showcases in a packed lineup.

Saturday: 15th October, 2022

Art gallery:

Constituted on the SAC foyer, the art gallery contained a beautiful assortment of paintings created by IITM students.

Writing Club:

The Writing Cub conducted two events – Just 99 and Request a Poem. 

Just 99 challenged participants to write a coherent piece consisting of just ninety-nine words within ten minutes. 

Through Request a Poem, members of the Writing Club Contingent attempted to write poems based on cues, themes or keywords given to them by the audience. This turned out to be a fairly popular event.

Word Games Club:

The WGC conducted events like Rebus, Charades, Ramblers, Russian Dolls, Spooners and Addagrams which saw a fairly steady stream of participants at the stall.

Quiz Club:

The Quiz Club hosted a buzzer quiz. It was a general quiz targeted to beginners which drew interest.

E-sports Club:

E-sports Club remained a fairly popular stall with its offering of free video games! It had three stalls with three games: Gran Turismo, Fifa and Call of Duty.

Oratory Club:

OC conducted “Tackle and Block”: participants had to argue for a given topic for a stipulated time and immediately switch to arguing against the topic for the same amount of time.

Classical Arts Club Contingent Performance:

Four compositions were presented during the CAC Contingent performance. The first composition was a harmonious blend of Carnatic and Hindustani instrumental music with harmonium, tabla, mridangam and violin. This was followed by two vocal performances in Hindustani and Carnatic traditions respectively. The penultimate performance was an instrumental composition in Carnatic musical tradition. The artists were Nihar (harmonium and Hindustani vocals), Prahlad (mridangam), Sharang (tabla), Skandan (violin) and Shruthi (Carnatic vocals).

Music Club Western Musical Contingent:

The event was conducted by the Music Club contingent members which saw a higher influx of an energy-filled crowd. There was a prevailing sense of enthusiasm in the air as students rocked their heads to the beat, danced and waved flashlights. The event saw Watch Over You, Blackbird, Castle Bravo, I’m Yours, Fix You, and Broken being performed on stage. The crowd also enjoyed the keyboard and saxophone solos along with a beatboxing solo. An original song, Smoke and Winters, was also performed at the event. Kushan, Aman, Pranav, Raunak, Nishanth, Anand, Ishttartha, Rishi, Shriram, Bhabya, Rose, Saahil, Nikhil, Sanjana, Joy, Srinath, Elizabeth, Atharva, Kaibalya, Yatin, Rithik, Saran, Anutosh and Dharani were the members of the contingent who performed this wide medley of recitals with instruments like electric guitars, drums, keyboards, etc.

Meraki – Silambam:

Silambam was conducted by Meraki. Silambam is an ancient Indian martial art form originating in Southern India. It has found mention in Tamil Sangam literature. The event drew a large crowd to an energetic demonstration.

Nova – Korean Fest:

Nova began the Korean Fest inauguration with traditional Korean games and a quiz on Korean culture. This was followed by the inauguration of the Korean Fest with a performance by a Chennai-based K-pop group, LDC who also danced along with the students later. The event saw a very enthusiastic crowd.


The informals club conducted a variety of games like Never Have I Ever, Bucket Pong and Sport Stacking to keep people engaged as they moved through the fest.

Media club photo booth:

The media club set up a fun backdrop for photos: a large black cardboard decorated with various streamers and confetti, with a bag of accessories to boot.

They also conducted a competition, where participants could submit the pictures they took at Mardi Gras and the best ones would be posted on the media club page with a special shoutout.

Fashion club

Day 1 concluded with a ramp walk put on by the fashion club. The theme for the event was the evolution of fashion through the years, displaying a variety of fun pieces relevant to the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and their ideas for futuristic fashion.

Sunday: 16th October 2022

Korean Film Festival

As part of the pilot version of the Korean Fest, Saarang’s Nova team held a Korean Movie Screening – the movie of choice being Miracle in Cell No.7 (Lee Hwan-kyung, 2013). The silent hoots and rustling of typically forbidden free snacks soon turned into violent sobs as the movie, a father-daughter drama, alternated between heart wrenching and lighthearted, leaning more into the former towards the end. 

Salsa Workshop

On that erstwhile sleepy Sunday afternoon, Choreo Club organized a Salsa Workshop conducted by Dance vs Dance semi-finalist Abhiraj and team.UTIL almost hit capacity with a strong turnout of well-dressed students across genders(in sharp contrast to typically lazy insti outfits). While some nailed the back-and-forth co-ordination, some others forgot mathematics and the art of counting all together. But there was no dearth of enthusiasm from any quarter.  

Professional Shows

The first free professional show of the year was held in SAC, with Jack’ Styles, a hip-hop rapper, as the opener and Perfect Strangers, a melodic rock band, as the headlining act. Disjoint chunks of the crowd attempted head-banging as Jack’ Styles repeatedly rapped, how much money do you have? (a sharp reminder to the insti audience that the answer, in fact, is zero). Nevertheless, the shows were a prelude to Saarang’s ProShows’ themselves, being closely and aptly followed by EDM ticket sales. 

Sangam Clubs:

Several clubs part of Sangam like the Oratory Club, Writing Club, Word Games Club and Drama Club continued their respective events throughout the entire morning.

Classical Arts Dance Performance:

The contingent members of the Classical Arts Club performed a thirty minute Bharathanatyam dance recital. Graceful movements, scintillating expressions and tremendous applause galore! They opened with Pushpanjali (a traditional introductory piece) and  continued with a small folk song named “Aasai meeruthey” which depicted a conversation between Krishna and Yashoda. The performers finished with Kalinganarthana, a song on how Lord Krishna defeated the serpent king Kalinga. 

Choreo Club Contingent Performance:

The Choreo Club presented an amazing performance of 5 songs, Kajra Re, Gimme more and Kuluvalilae to name a few. Incorporating three dance styles (Locking, Hip Hop and Jazz) into their choreography, the contingent members were the highlight and hype of that morning of Mardi Gras!

Spotlight Interviews:

To end the festivities with a bang, Spotlight invited two famous personalities to be interviewed and to engage with the audience. Pradeep Kumar, a well renowned playback singer and music composer in the Tamil industry, spoke about his experience in the field, hurdles in composing songs and even rendered a few beautiful pieces!

Looking Ahead

The theme of Saarang this year is “Mystic Hues.” The festival will be held from January 11th to January 15th, 2023 and will feature over 100 events and competitions, as well as 5 professional nights.

As we all look to turn the page and embrace 2023, Saarang promises a festive start to the year with big names like Sunidhi Chauhan, Pineapple Express, Girish and the Chronicles, and international artist Kaaze performing for your pleasure.

Here’s to tradition, memories, friendship, and above all, fun.

Find more info about Saarang 2023 here and here.

Garima is a professional forgetter and aspires to be a Frooti.

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