The mask is off the world’s face. It has been so for a while, thankfully. The news from China may be a cause of concern, but things are, by and large, now what they were before the coronavirus pressed a pause button on the world. Among those worst hit by the pandemic were artistes, most of whom went out of work. The smile is back on their faces. And they have begun making their audiences smile again.
Over the next five days, Kerala will witness a large gathering of artistes. Looking forward to watch them perform are some of the biggest crowds after the pandemic. The State School Arts Festival is back. The 61st edition of this unique cultural festival gets under way here on Tuesday.
Also read |Kozhikode ready to welcome State School Arts Festival guests with its trademark hospitality
The last edition was held in Kanhangad, in late 2019, a few months before the entire world went under a lockdown.
Not surprisingly, the festival drew huge crowds in the Kasaragod district. Not even the heavy rain could prevent some 8,000 people from coming together to witness Palakkad lifting the Gold Cup (presented to the district with the highest number of points).
The crowds could be bigger over the next five days at Kozhikode. The venues can house more people. Some 20,000 are expected to come every day at the Captain Vikram Maidan, the main venue. Around 11,000 of them can sit there. Many of the showpiece events like Mohiniyattom, Group Dance, Folk Dance and Oppana will be staged there. They are only a few of the popular events. Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Light Music, Drama, Mimicry, Mono Act, Kolkali, Kathaprasangam and Thiruvathirakali are also among the crowd-pullers. And you would also find devoted fans of classical and various forms of instrumental music, like violin, guitar, flute and chenda.
Such astonishing variety of art forms is one of the reasons why this festival is so special (competitions will be held in 239 events). Another is the number of participants, with 12,000-odd students taking part in the Kanhangad fete. The organisers are expecting as many, or even more, here (the final number would be determined only after the confirmed participation of students after successfully appealing against the results at the district level; at the filing of this report 9,512 students had registered).
It may be interesting to note that the inaugural edition of the festival had 400 participants in 18 events. Right from the beginning the festival has witnessed exceptional talents. Singers like K.J. Yesudas, P. Jayachandran, K.S. Chithra, Sujatha and G. Venugopal and actors like Manju Warrier and Vineeth are only some of the winners that have gone on to dominate the cultural landscape of Kerala. After a break, it is time for new stars to emerge.