Irfan Ali K. K. of St. Josephs Higher Secondary School, Thalassery, and Keerthana L. of Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir, Elamakkara, Kochi, bagged the top honours in the junior and senior categories at the 21st edition of  The Hindu-Young World  painting contest held at Le Meridien here on Saturday. Three hundred and fifty students participated in the event.

With the win, Irfan Ali, who came to the city on Friday night with parents all the way from Thalassery, claimed his 22{+n}{+d}first prize in a major painting contest. Soon after the contest he left for Kozhikode, where he is to participate in another painting contest on Sunday.

“I took an interest in painting right from UKG. I do take training in painting,” said Irfan, who is a Class 7 student. His colourful and lively painting that depicted a family engaged in gardening came in for much praise.

Keerthana too has won numerous medals for her paintings and has received formal training. Her prize-winning painting depicted people who were holidaying at a hill station, with monkeys happily feeding on the leftover food. “My picnics to Munnar, Ooty, etc. were fresh in my memory,” she said.

The chief guest was actor Sudhir Sukumaran who plays Dracula in the movie Dracula 2012.

The second and third prizes in the senior category went to Niza Kaladharan of Our Lady of Mercy HSS, Aroor, and Saurav Suman of Sacred Heart Public School, SH Mount, Kottayam. In the junior category, Faud Hussain of Kendriya Vidyalaya No I., Kochi, won the second prize and Edwin Raju of SH Convent Senior Secondary School, Chengalam East, bagged the third prize.

While the theme for the juniors was gardening and scenes at a beach, the seniors had to choose from hill-station holiday and road safety. Paintings based on scenes on the beach depicted people flying kites, playing beach volleyball, enjoying the sunset and taking a boat ride. Paintings on the gardening theme were a riot of colours, though there also a few with subtle shades.

In the senior category, the paintings by students who chose the road safety theme depicted the deplorable condition of the State’s narrow roads and the accidents on them that claim an average of 11 people daily. Many paintings showed policemen booking rule violators and helping people cross the road.

“Such events do wonders for developing talent among children,” said Shaju P.P., who brought his daughter Snehal all the way from Chalakudy for the event.

Both parents and children felt that the venue, facing the backwaters, provided the right ambience for the event. Children were treated to sandwiches and soft drinks.

Artists Sebastian Varghese and K.L. Leon, the judges of the event, spoke of how tough it was to shortlist 10 paintings from the 20 that were selected.

“Zeroing in on the final three was even tougher. We gave preference to water colour and shunned ones which used marker pen,” Mr. Varghese said.

Mr Leon said they chose paintings that had life.

Le Meridien General Manager Saji Joseph picked the general manager’s choice from the 350 paintings. The honour went to Shayak Ghosh of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Rubber Board, Kottayam, who also won a consolation prize.

“The focus was on creativity and the right mix of colours. This one looked like a canvas and touched me. It is nice to motivate kids by hosting such events,” Mr Joseph said.

The title sponsor of the painting competition is MIOT International.

The associate sponsors are Relief Cough & Cold and Dabur Red Paste. Le Meridien, Kochi, was the hospitality partner.

The following are the consolation prize winners: Senior category— Akhil Krishnan, Mahatma Gandhi Public School; Ashik Purushotham of Model Technical Higher Secondary School, Kaloor; Maria Abraham Elenjikal of S.D.V. English Medium Higher Secondary School, Alapuzha; Chandana Thennel K.S., of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vidya Mandir, Irinjalakuda; Ann Mariya Joy of Vijayagiri Public School; Shreya Gopinath of B.V.B., Poochatt; and G. Shyam Prasad of Technical Higher Secondary School, Puthupally.

In the junior category, Sheethal Shobi of BVM, Eroor; Anjalo Loy of Sri Sai Vidya Vihar; Joyel Thomas of Vijayagiri Public School; Anamika Ann Maria of BVM, Girinagar; Gowry B. Dinesh of Our Lady of Mercy School, Aroor; and Vishnu Ramesh of Bhavan’s Adarsha Vidyalaya, won consolation prizes. While top three prize-winners in the senior category took home a purse of Rs.5,000, Rs.3,000 and Rs.2,000, the top three in the junior category were awarded Rs.3,000, Rs.2,000 and Rs.1,000.