As you move from one venue to the other in Malappuram, you would know how the town got its name (which means top of the mountain). Many roads are like hairpin curves and you would often come across steep roads. “There are many traffic blocks because of the festival. Though we have more work now, we spend more on fuel too,” said Zakeer Hussain, an autorickshaw driver.

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There were a few embarrassed faces, undoubtedly first time ‘koothu’ watchers, among the audience for the Chakyarkoothu competition. When the Chakyar pointed at some of them and asked uncomfortable questions, they took it personally and shifted in their seats with a sly smile on their face. This continued until they got the hang of the event.

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Luke from France turned quite a few heads during the Ottan Thullal competition. He was seen marching alongside a competitor, holding tender palm fronds. “I have been planning to come to India for long to research on Indian culture and I could not have found a better place, where all art forms confluence.”

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Harish Sahni, a retired engineer from Germany who is holidaying at Kovalam, wanted to find out how far Malappuram was from Thiruvananthapuram, as he wished to see the festival, after reading about it in The Hindu . He sounded disappointed that festival was concluding on Sunday. “I will see this festival next year,” he said.

(Contributed by S.R. Praveen, Abdul Latheef Naha and P.K. Ajith Kumar)

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