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GenreCultural Festival
DatesJanuary 9th - 13th
Location(s)Chennai, India
Organized byIIT Madras
Filing statusStudent-run non-profit organization

Saarang (means 'Chital' or Spotted Deer in Sanskrit, a common sight on IIT Madras campus) is the annual social and cultural festival of IIT Madras. It is a 5 day long festival usually extending from Wednesday to the second Sunday of the year which receives a footfall of over 60,000+ people from over 500 colleges all across the country. Founded in 1974, Saarang is the second oldest college festival in India and has established a firm place in every student's college bucket list.[2] Having started off under the banner of 'Mardi Gras' the fest was initially home to a small number of quizzes and music events widely regarded as South India's most competitive.[3] Through the early 21st century the festival, having changed its avatar and adopted the name 'Saarang', grew rapidly with the help of corporate sponsorship,[4] collaboration with large-scale event organisers and international artistes from 5 continents.

Saarang is a not-for-profit, entirely student-run, ISO 9001:2015 organisation, making it the only one of its kind amongst college festivals.[5] All organising members of the festival are current students of IIT Madras.[6] 450 student coordinators are selected from amongst 10,000 students on campus through a gruelling and competitive application procedure, characteristic of the IITs.[7] The coordinators are organised as per function, in 12 departments, each headed by a 'core coordinator'. The 12 departments are led by the 2 cultural secretaries, who are elected by the institute annually in March.[8]

Saarang's Core Member Team, 2019
Saarang Core Member Team 2018


In the early 1970s, a "cultural week" festival was held.[9]

The fest was formally started in 1974-75 as Mardi Gras, the focus of the festival being to promote interest in cultural and literary activities and to develop the organizational skills of the students.[10] The event was renamed to 'Saarang' in 1996 to give it a more 'Indian' theme. The fest has gone on to become an integral part of the city culture of Chennai. Commercial sponsorships for the event increased significantly in the late 90s allowing the event to attract a much higher profile.


Students a performing at a Choreo event

Spotlight (lectures and demonstrations)[edit]

Kiran Bedi talks to students as part of Lectures and Demonstrations at Saarang, IIT Madras

Saarang has observed a wide range of personalities present lectures and conduct demonstrations during the event and as a part of Pre-Saarang activities. “Spotlight”, a concept in the previous editions of Saarang was a platform for famous and notable persons from various fields to address the audience and hold interactive sessions with them. Past speakers to have featured in Saarang include Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Kamal Hassan, Shriya Saran, Manu Joseph, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Mahesh Dattani, Leela Samson, Leander Paes, Kiran Bedi, Anita Rathnam, Ira Trivedi and R. Balakrishnan.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui at Saarang's Lectures and Demonstrations


Competitive events are held throughout Saarang and registration begins in December through their website. There are events in every field of art, dance, music, apart from literary events and group events like Scavenger Hunt. There are also informal stalls set up every day for spectators to participate in many small events.

IIT students perform at Choreo Nite

World Cultural Shows[edit]

The “World Culture Show” (WCS) at Saarang is a platform to showcase culture and talent from around the world and hosts artists from various countries across the world. There have been many such performances at Saarang, in many kinds of music, like Irish folk, contemporary music, alternative rock, hip-hop and acoustic music. In the past, WCS had introduced artists into Chennai’s cultural scene through the contributions of Goethe-Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan, Alliance Française de Madras, the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Embassy of Israel, and the US Consulate in Chennai, among other international organisations, in support of their respective artistes.

Abaji performs at the World Cultural Show in Saarang

Rock Show[edit]

The Rock Show is a crowd-puller every year because of the unique brand of music it brings to the audience every year. At, Saarang, musicians of international bands of rock, alternative rock, metal and fusion have performed.

EDM Night[edit]

EDM Night is Saarang's fastest growing professional show and Chennai's largest annual EDM event. Having been initiated only in 2013 brands like Sunburn and VH1 Supersonic have featured as its organising partners. The line-up has featured some of India's most popular names in electronic dance music as well as a few international artistes.

  • 2013 - Sunburn Campus with DJ (S)haan and Dualist Inquiry.
  • 2014 - Sunburn Campus with Dualist Inquiry, Nucleya, Anish Sood and Lost Stories.
  • 2015 - VH1 Supersonic Campus with Thermal Projekt, Progressive Brothers and Nucleya.
  • 2016 - DJs from Mars as international headliners. Sicklead, Aceaxe and Candice Redding as supporting acts.
  • 2017 - Marnik as International headliner, Aceaxe & Sartek as Supporting Act
  • 2018 - AronChupa as International headliner, Nina Suerte as Supporting Act
  • 2019 - Maddix (DJ) as International headliner, Adrima as Supporting Act

Classical Night[edit]

Sonal Mansingh performs at Classical Night

Every year Saarang starts with “Classical night” in the Open Air Theatre of IIT Madras. Reputed performers of Indian classical music and dance forms inaugurate Saarang at this professional show. M. Balamuralikrishna, Daksha Seth Dance Academy represented by Isha Sarvani,[25][25] Mallika Sarabhai and troupe, Anil Srinivasan, Sikkil Gurucharan, Navin Iyer, Ganesh Kumaresh, S. Sowmya, B.S. Purushothaman, Sonal Mansingh, Aruna Sairam, Shobana[26] have performed in the previous editions of Saarang.

Popular Night[edit]

Salim -Sulaiman perform at Popular Night

Popular Night is hosted at the Open Air Theatre of IIT Madras. It features live performances by members of the Bollywood music industry. Popular Night has featured artistes like Devi Sri Prasad and Vishal& Shekhar (in the year 2012), Krishnakumar Kunnath, (in the year 2011),[27] the musical trio Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy(in 2010)[28] [29] [30] [31] Sonu Nigam(in 2009),[26][32] Lucky Ali and Karthik (in 2008),[33][34] Sukhwinder Singh (in 2007),[15] Shaan (in 2004).,[35] Salim-Sulaiman and Benny Dayal.

Workshop as part of Saarang Eunoia
People at the Terry Fox run to raise cancer awareness, at IIT Madras

Past associates and sponsors[edit]

Saarang has attracted sponsorship[36] from various established corporations owing to the phenomenal participation of students coming from various parts of the country and abroad. The main sponsor of Saarang for many years has been MRF Limited.[37][circular reference] Some of the other companies that have been sponsoring various events of Saarang are Max, Vodafone Essar,[38] Bharti Airtel,[39] Nokia,[40] SBI, Exprez, Canara Bank, Derby, Wildcraft, Durex Jeans, Pepe Jeans, Aircel, INOX, McDonald’s, TATA Tion, isoft,[39] Club Mahindra Holidays.


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  3. ^ Harish, Shreyas. "Mardi Gras". The Hindu.
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  5. ^ Harish, Shreyas. "Saarang". Saarang.
  6. ^ Harish, Shreyas. "IIT Madras". IIT Madras.
  7. ^ Harish, Shreyas. "Aspiring Coordinators Meet". Time Out.
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  11. ^ "Celebrating team work". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 29 January 2003.
  12. ^ "Campus confluence". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 8 January 2004.
  13. ^ "Saarang continues to rock Chennai". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 January 2005.
  14. ^ a b "IIT officials pull plug on rock show". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 31 January 2006.
  15. ^ a b "Saarang set to roll on January 25". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 22 January 2007.
  16. ^ "Yet another exciting edition of 'Saarang'". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 14 January 2008.
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  25. ^ a b "American band to feature in Saarang". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 16 January 2010.
  26. ^ a b "Saarang is back". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 13 January 2009.
  27. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (30 January 2011). "Living every 'pal'". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  28. ^ "Headbangers' night out". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 25 January 2010.
  29. ^ "IIT Madras revs up for Saarang 2010". Rediff.
  30. ^ "Indiatimes: India News, Business, Movies, Cricket, Shopping, more". The Times Of India. Archived from the original on May 24, 2010.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ "Theatre fest new element in IIT-M". The Times Of India. 21 January 2009.
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  34. ^ "Brand Saarang gets better". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 22 January 2008.
  35. ^ "Celebrating team work". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 29 January 2003.
  36. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (17 January 2011). "Better than before". The Hindu. Chennai, India.
  37. ^ MRF (company)
  38. ^ "Vodafone connects with IIT's Saarang fest". Sify.
  39. ^ a b
  40. ^ "Beep Experience manages brand activation for Nokia at IIT Saarang". EVENTFAQS Media.

External links[edit]