Chandrashekaran Nair Stadium, on Wednesday, witnessed the honouring of some iconic figures who have admirably represented Kerala and its culture in the country and abroad. The occasion was the inaugural of ‘Onam Week 2011,' organised by the Department of Tourism. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurated the event.

“Onam and Malayalam language are the main factors that unite us and give us the identity of being a Malayali. Honouring our gurus is part of our culture,” said Mr. Chandy said. Contributions from the “acharayanmar” will help build a society with stronger cultural values, he added.

Poet O.N.V. Kurup, writer Sukumar Azhikode, poet and theatre artist Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Kathakali artiste Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, percussionist Mattannur Sankarankutty, and sound engineer Resul Pookutty were selected for the honour of ‘Kerala Vandanam'.

The Chief Minister presented them with ‘ponnada' and Transport Minister V.S. Sivakumar gave them mementos. The contributions of Mr. Ramankutty Nair, who could not make it to the function, were remembered.

In his reply speech, Mr. Kurup dedicated the award to the “mother of Kerala culture — Malayalam language.” Mr. Narayana Panicker said, “As we celebrate Onam, let us also remember those who died in the bomb blast in Delhi today.”

Mr. Pookutty said that it was a humbling experience and great privilege to receive the honour along with his ‘gurus'.

The festive mood was captured by a percussion performance (‘kelikottu') by Peruvanom Kuttan Marar and his team of 100 artistes, which preceded the function.

The inaugural function was followed by cultural events titled ‘Bhavarasa' organised by the Department of Tourism and ‘Mathrubhumi.'

The week-long celebrations, organised at 32 centres in the city, will end on September 13.

Keywords: Onam