The Munnar Fest, which was inaugurated at the Kanan Devan Hills Plantation (KDHP) ground in Old Munnar on Sunday is attracting huge crowd which includes foreign tourists. The week-long festival was arranged to showcase cultural programmes and providing the tourists an opportunity to enjoy traditional and local art forms in addition to finding markets for local artefacts and organic produces including forest produces. There are nearly 85 stalls arranged at the festival venue -including those of Police, Forest, Excise and Tourism departments.
One of the main stalls is that of the police where organic cardamom and forest produces like thelli and honey collected by the tribal people of the remote grama panchayat of Edamalakudy is sold. The organic cardamom is sold at Rs. 750 per kilogram. The cardamom grown in Edamalakkudy is free of pesticide or fertiliser application as it is grown completely in the forest areas.
“For the first time, the tribal farmers of Edamalakkudy got an opportunity for selling cardamom grown there in the open, and to familiarise the organic cardamom before a big audience,” said a beat officer of the Janamaithri police in Edamalakkudy. The cardamom from Edamalakkudy was often sold below the market rate as the farmers are ignorant of its value in the markets. Though small in size, the organic cardamom has good demand among the consumers and the poor tribals are bound to get a good price for it, he said.
The bamboo products from the panchayat -including mats and carry bags- are also well received at the fest venue. The flower show and the products from small units and handicrafts items are attracting visitors. The photo exhibition on Munnar in the yesteryear carries one to the age of British rule and the festivals and technological advancement during that time.
Devikulam Sub Collector M.G. Rajamanikyam, who is also the convenor of the organising committee, told The Hindu that various cultural shows will also be held during in the coming days. “Tamil and Malayalam programmes giving importance to cultural integration are arranged and traditional art forms will entertain the audience,” he said. He added that the festival was arranged in Munnar with the aim to tap the vast tourism potential. Rain-proof arrangements are done and enough space is provided to each stalls.