Watch | Kalolsavam 2023: Why is Kerala’s school arts festival special?

Why is Kerala’s school arts festival special?

A video on Kerala’s annual State school arts festival

January 06, 2023 06:21 pm | Updated January 08, 2023 07:23 pm IST

About 11,000 students from 14 districts of Kerala are participating at the School Kalolsavam, which began on January 3rd in Kozhikode and will conclude on January 7th.  

By the scale of participation and the number of events, Kerala’s annual State school arts festival is widely regarded as the biggest of its kind in Asia.  

First held in 1957, Kalolsavam is a state-level competition conducted by the Kerala government for students from classes 8 to 12 of state schools.  

It is held every year in a different district.  

There are as many as 239 competitive events this year, including performances of classical dances like Mohiniyattam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali; Drama, Carnatic music, light music, instrumental music, Yakshaganam, painting, story-writing, versification, recitation, mimicry, and mono-act. 

The festival also provides a crucial space to keep art forms such as Chavittu Natakam, Ottan Thullal, Margam Kali and Kathaprasangom alive.  

New events have been added over the years, making the festival bigger and bringing into focus lesser-known art forms. 

Kalolsavam 2023 – bigger than ever 

This year’s edition is happening after a 3-year-break forced by the pandemic.  

While it began in 1957 with just a few hundred participants and a modest crowd, this year’s main venue at Captain Vikram Maidan in Kozhikode can seat 12,000 spectators. 

Some events like Oppana attracted crowds of more than 18,000 there.  

And the 239 events are being held at 24 different school venues across the city.  

Moreover, a food pavilion managed by the veteran chef Pazhayidom Mohanan Namboothiri, that can feed more than 17,000 people a day, has also been set up.    

However, it is much more than just a big event.  

Where artistes are discovered  

For thousands of students in schools with the Kerala State syllabus, it is the ultimate stage to compete against the best performers from across Kerala.  

Renowned Mohiniyattam dancer Methil Devika, who won prizes for classical dance at sub-district and district level of the festival, wrote in a recent column for The Hindu that she was intimidated by the quality of the competition at the 1991 Festival she participated in.  

She says for young artistes, there is no bigger opportunity.  

Several well-known actors, dancers and musicians from Kerala had their first date with fame at the festival.  

Those names include singers K.J. Yesudas, P. Jayachandran, K.S. Chitra, Sujatha, Minmini, Srinivas, Venugopal and Harisankar as well as actors Manju Warrier, Navya Nair and Vineeth. 

Actor, singer and filmmaker Vineeth Sreenivasan, who made the blockbuster Hridayam this year, is a winner as a singer at the Kalolsavam. 

Reporting: PK Ajith Kumar, A Mithosh Joseph, Navamy Sudhish, AS Jayanth, Aabha Raveendran, Biju Govind

Videos: Sakeer Hussain, A Mithosh Joseph, Biju Govind, PK Ajith Kumar

Script: Aswin V N

Voiceover: Gopika K P

Production: Reenu Cyriac

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