It was an alumni reunion of a different kind in Chennai as old students, all in their 60s, traced and honoured 17 of their old professors, forty years after they left the Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology, now part of the renowned Anna University.
65 old students of the 1974 - 1979 Chemical Engineering, Textiles and Leather Technology batch flew in from all over the world including the US, UK, Australia, Middle East and Kenya for this two day get together.
After locating their 17 retired teachers and 3 lab attendants, organizers of the reunion personally invited their gurus who are now aged between 75 and 92. All 17 teachers made it to the special event on the college campus. 92-year old Professor Krishnamoorthy attended holding a walker and assisted by his son.
Each teacher was garlanded and honoured with a sovereign gold coin, a dhoti, shirt and a silk sari for the spouse. The lab assistants were gifted a cash of twenty five thousand rupees. Their travel was taken care of by the alumni group.
The highlight of the event was when the teachers blessed the students, well in their 60's, assembled there with folded hands, by showering rice and turmeric, a tradition called "Atchadai" which is usually witnessed only during weddings.
Teachers performing "Atchadai" for the alumni group of Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology
P Upendran an alumnus, who is in the media industry says "We are in our 60s. Some of us have lost our parents. Getting blessed by our teachers now was a touching moment".
N Shanmugasundaram, an industrialist who had done all the ground work, said, "Even today we feel and realise the value of the knowledge and discipline they have imparted to us. Without them we wouldn't have become who we are today".
It was a special moment for the teachers too. Dr. P Ramaswamy, a faculty member who later rose up to become a University Vice Chancellor and now serving as Dean at SSN College of Engineering, told NDTV "I was a simple teacher then. So nice of them to remember and call me. I remember their faces from when they were in college. All of them look different now".
Dr. Kasturi, another retired teacher who is now 82, added, "I'm so proud to see my students in very good status. They've meticulously planned for this. It was a special moment to bless and honour our students. Gurus used to honour students this way in olden days when we had gurukulavasam".
After honouring teachers the 65 old students began their reunion with lunch at a hotel of an alumnus along the East Coast Road. Recreating their college years in the 70s the tables were named after popular films then , including Sholay, Padhinaaru Vayadhinile, Jaws etc. Everyone sported a T Shirt and cap designed for the occasion. The chit-chat and walk down memory lane continued well past midnight culminating with a music and dance session.
Alumni of Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology who attended the event
"The alumni group has also decided to spend the residual amount to revive a stimulation lab at their college. One of the members, Sambasiva Rao in Kenya has offered scholarships worth five lakh rupees every year to help needy and meritorious students of our college" said P Chinnakkani, a leather consultant and a key organizing member of the team.
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