The Kerala Government seeks to build on the success of its partnership with the Confederation of Tamil Nadu Malayalee Associations (CTMA) in Chennai in facilitating cultural and welfare measures to the Malayali community in Tamil Nadu, T. K. Manoj Kumar, Secretary, Department of Non-Keralites' Affairs (NORKA) said on Sunday.

Addressing the finale of “Aavanipoovarangu 2011”, the Onam celebrations hosted by the CTMA, Mr. Manoj Kumar said the recently opened NORKA unit in Chennai had already begun implementing programmes such as language classes through the CTMA.

The range of services will soon be expanded to include more cultural, financial assistance and welfare schemes for non-resident Keralites, he said.“The message I bring from the Government is that it is keen on strengthening the relationship with the CTMA in the Public Private Partnership mode,” Mr. Manoj Kumar said.

He also remarked that the visual vignettes relating to Onam got up for the “Aavanipoovarangu” celebrations certainly rivalled the scale and splendour of festivities back home. Jennifer A. McIntyre, US Consul General, said the US Consulate witnessed a large number of visa applications from Keralites for study and work purposes. The substantial flow back and forth of visitors from Kerala contributed to the strong bond of people-to-people relations between the two countries, she said.

Ms. McIntyre, who noted that the expatriate Malayalis were a vibrant community in the US, said she was looking forward to her first visit to Kerala in a few weeks. Veteran drama artist Vijaya Kumari was given the Dr. V. P. Sidhan Nataka Puraskaram drama prize.

Other personalities to be honoured for their contributions were V. Dakshinamoorthy and M. S. Viswanathan (music), Jayaram, K. T. Kunjumon and Sukumari (cinema) and T. P. Rajeevan (literature).

V.C. Praveen, Global President, World Malayalee Council, M. Nanda Govind, CTMA president and other office-bearers M. P. Purushothaman, K. S. Gopal, M.A. Salim and Gokulam Gopalan also participated.

A variety of cultural and entertainment programmes followed.