Chief Minister to inaugurate State-level celebrations at Chandrasekharan Nair stadium today

Even the rain gods seemed to be caught up in the Onam spirit, with the clouds opening up to send cool showers over the city on Monday, just when the official Onam celebrations began here.

The rain, however, did not deter the students and artistes who had lined up for a colourful declaration procession from the Sports Council headquarters behind the Government Secretariat and as the rain pattered to a halt, they set off to the Kanakakunnu palace, heralding the arrival of Onam through the city’s streets, already decked up with illuminations and hoardings welcoming Lord Mahabali.

At the palace, Mizoram Governor Vakkom Purushottaman hoisted the Onam flag to declare the Onam celebrations on. Addressing the gathering, Mr. Purushottaman said he still fondly remembered how he, as the Tourism Minister, had initiated the celebrations 32 years ago. What began as the Tourism Week celebrations during Onam gradually became the State’s Onam celebrations, with more and more participation from the public making the event a success every year.

However, he said, the role of tourism and tourists adding to the success of the event should not be forgotten and tourism had to be given sufficient importance during the period. The State’s budget allocation of Rs.180 crore for the tourism sector showed the significance of the sector, which along with fisheries, held the maximum potential for development in the State. Also lauding the person who coined the phrase ‘God’s Own Country,’ Mr. Purushottaman said no other State could match Kerala on matters of tourism potential and the way in which the State celebrated its festivals like Onam.

Mr. Purushottaman later switched on the illuminations at the palace.

Tourism Minister A.P. Anil Kumar presided over the function, which had Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar as the guest of honour. Palode Ravi and V. Sivankutty, MLAs; Mayor K. Chandrika; Tourism Director Rani George; and Sports Council president Padmini Thomas were also present.

The celebrations, which will continue till September 3, will begin with a host of cultural programmes after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurates the State-level celebrations at 6.30 p.m. at the Chandrasekharan Nair stadium on Tuesday.

The programmes will be held at 27 venues across the State capital, with the Kanakakunnu Palace itself to have five venues.

The Chandrasekharan Nair stadium will have a channel and print media-hosted mega show and honouring of actor Madhu for his 50 years in cinema on Tuesday.

The rest of the venues include the Nishagandhi auditorium, Suryakanti, Sopanam, Theerthapada Mandapam, Gandhi Park, VJT Hall, Poojapura Grounds, Museum Compound, Sathyan Memorial Hall, N. Krishnapillai Foundation auditorium, the Public Office compound, Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan, Institute of Engineers Hall, Sreevaraham, Aakkulam Tourist Village, Veli Tourist Village, Karakulam Kalagramam, and the Mudavurpara Boat Club premises at Pallichal.

A colourful procession from Kowdiar to East Fort on September 3 will bring down the curtain on the celebrations.