Speaker G. Karthikeyan has exhorted students to dedicate themselves to excellence in arts and culture. This was necessary to preserve the rich tradition of the country, he said.

He was inaugurating “Sargasangamam-2013”, Kottayam Sahodaya Regional Kalotsav at Girideepam Bethany Central School, Vadavathoor, near here on Wednesday.

Mr. Karthikeyan expressed dismay at the common aspiration of youngsters to use youth festivals as launch pads for entering the film industry. “There is more to such festivals than what is being perceived by many. Cultural festivals are primarily intended to become meeting points of various art forms. Moreover, the diversity in our cultural heritage is showcased through such platforms. They must nurture mutual respect towards exponents of various art forms,” he said.

He said that cultural festivals must also be considered as opportunities to develop inter-personal relationships among students. Such events must lead to a feeling of oneness and unity among those representing various schools and hailing from diverse backgrounds.

Mr. Karthikeyan also showered rich praise on Ajay Kumar, better known as ‘Guinness Pakru’, who was also on the stage during the function. He highlighted the extraordinary journey of Mr. Kumar to become a notable personality in the cultural field. Speaking later, Mr. Kumar quipped, “I might be only about 3 feet tall, but I have always worn the confidence of a person who is taller than 6 feet,” evoking cheers from the numerous students who were present. After the announcement of results of 65 items, Girideepam Bethany Central School led the points table with 233 points. Marian Senior Secondary School, Kottayam and Lourde Public School and Junior College, Kottayam with

230 and 209 points respectively, organisers said G. Reghunathan Pillai, president, Kottayam Sahodaya, chaired the inaugural session. Cine actor Sreejith Vijay, festival general convener Benedict Kaniyanttayyathu; district congress committee president Tomy Kallani, Vijayapuram grama panchayat president Baiju Cherukkottayil and Kottayam Sahodaya secretary Benny George were among the others who spoke.

According to the organisers, around 7,000 students representing 114 CBSE schools in the districts of Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha are participating in the annual fete.