Malabar Mail: Celebrating the spirit of the region

A Malabar success story

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Why do northern Kerala districts dominate the State School Arts Festival?

Last fortnight, Palakkad district kissed the Gold Cup at the State School Arts Festival at Kanhangad. Just as it did last year.

Kozhikode finished runner-up in a close race. Just as it did last year.

This time around, Kannur also tied with Kozhikode to emerge as the second-best district. The young artistes from Kozhikode may not see the second place as something to be overly proud about, though. After all, they are used to being the best, and not the second best.

When the students representing Kozhikode lifted the Gold Cup at Thrissur in early 2018, they were doing it for the 19th time (more than any other district in the six-decade-old history of the festival). And, it was for the 12th time in a row that they were becoming the overall champion district.

If you go further back in history, you would find that Kozhikode’s first overall title came in 1959 at Chittur, in the third edition of the festival. The following year, Thalassery emerged the champion (the teams were competing as educational districts then).

In the very first edition of the festival, held in Kochi in 1957, the champion was North Malabar district. A few decades later, different districts carved out of it would go on to dominate the festival.

Since Ernakulam triumphed in 2003, no district from Central or Southern Kerala has been able to lift the Gold Cup. That means a district from Malabar has been the champion in each of the last 17 editions of the festival. That fact is truly remarkable and worth discussing.

It cannot be pure coincidence. Neither could you argue that the students in Malabar are artistically more inclined than their counterparts in other parts of the State. Remember, between 1958 and 1989, Thiruvananthapuram alone was the champion district for 17 times. Alappuzha was the best district on four occasions during that period.

So what could be the reasons for this total, absolute dominance of districts from Malabar at the school festival for the last two decades?

That is certainly not because the schools from the region are run by rich managements, as some cynics would suggest.

If money could buy overall titles, then there are several schools in places like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram that could afford to spend even more.

A visit to Silver Hills HSS in Kozhikode or BSS Gurukulam HSS at Alathur (Palakkad) would help you find the real reason.

Those two schools have been the biggest contributors towards the points for their respective districts, year after year.

They have been able to do that with a lot of planning, hard work and wholehearted support from students, parents and the school managements. At Gurukulam and Silver Hills, the preparation for the school festival begins even before the academic year begins.

In May itself the talents are identified and are given training. The best of gurus – be it in music, dance, or drama – are hired from across the State.

The teachers are on the lookout for promising artistes from the lower classes onwards. Talented students from other schools are happily welcomed, too. And, there are many students who prefer to study at Gurukulam and Silver Hills because of the support they get at those schools.

Individual attention

There are dedicated members of the administration staff who would look after every need of the participant at every stage of the festival (the school, through the sub-district, district and the State levels). If a talented student needs financial support, it is provided by the management.

These schools rightly believe co-curricular activities make education more meaningful and complete, unlike many schools whose sole focus is academics.

The other main reason is Malabar’s passion towards arts. The 2013 edition of the festival in Malappuram remains fresh in memory for the massive crowds – in excess of 30,000 – it drew. Six years later, you could find the people of Kanhangad being as passionate.

(MALABAR MAIL is a weekly column by The Hindu’s correspondents that will reflect Malabar’s life and lifestyle)

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:29:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-malabar-success-story/article30260751.ece

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