Asia’s yes, but is Kerala School Kalolsavam world’s biggest arts festival of school children?

With the Internet age making information accessible and easy to source, a clear answer to ground the claim may soon be in the offing

January 06, 2023 09:16 pm | Updated January 08, 2023 05:36 pm IST

A young girl takes a selfie with the audience of the ongoing 61st Kerala School Kalolsavam, the State School Arts Festival, at the Captain Vikram Maidan in Kozhikode on Friday 

A young girl takes a selfie with the audience of the ongoing 61st Kerala School Kalolsavam, the State School Arts Festival, at the Captain Vikram Maidan in Kozhikode on Friday  | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain

Asia’s biggest. Kerala School Kalolsavam, the State School Arts Festival, has been described thus for decades.

The numbers could actually support that claim, even this year. The 61st edition of the festival, which concludes here on Friday, has about 11,000 participants competing in 239 events.

Also read | Kerala School Kalolsavam 2023: A cultural extravaganza that had something to offer for all segments

Diversity and scale

The team of Sacred Heart HSS, Thrissur, performing their play Thunnal as part of the Malayalam drama (HS) competition at the onging 61st Kerala School Kalolsavam in Kozhikode

The team of Sacred Heart HSS, Thrissur, performing their play Thunnal as part of the Malayalam drama (HS) competition at the onging 61st Kerala School Kalolsavam in Kozhikode | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain

When you look at the sheer variety of art forms the contests are held in, you would get a fair idea about the magnitude of the festival. Where would you find separate competitions in different styles of India’s classical dances like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattom, Kuchipudi and Kathakali? And, boys and girls have separate contests in all those dance forms.

Also read|Demand grows to promote Kalolsavam for better global attention

Even for music, you have competitions for vocal in different genres, such as light music, classical, G hazal, M appila Pattu and K athakali Sangeetham, again separately for boys and girls. And you could contest in just about every musical instrument—be it guitar, violin, guitar, flute, tabla, etc.

Huge crowds

Oppana Crowd
| Video Credit: Mithosh Joseph

Then, there are the crowds. A sea of 30,000 people turned up to watch Oppana at Malappuram in the 2013 edition of the festival. And over the years, there have been crowds of more than 20,000 for other popular events like Group Dance, especially if the host happened to be one of the districts in the Malabar region.

The number of people being fed at the festival could also make some kind of a record. More than 22,000 people were provided lunch on Thursday and a couple of thousand more on Saturday.

Also read |Kerala School Kalolsavam 2023: Crowds throng to watch Kuchipudi

In all aspects, the event always bore the enormity to be Asia’s biggest. While there was no way to ascertain this before, now, with the Internet giving access to a flood of information, it can be more of less confirmed that there is no other fete of a similar genre to match the magnitude of the State School Arts Festival.

Also, the claim that the festival is the continent’s largest has not been disputed yet. Yet maybe it is time to ask if the festival or competition is indeed the world’s biggest for schoolchildren?

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