Utsavam – a tourism spread rich in culture

Kerala Tourism is gearing up to organise the second edition of ‘Utsavam,’ the four-month-long cultural festival centred on tourist spots in the State with the support of Kerala Folklore Akademi.

The cultural fete that was kicked off last year to promote traditional art forms and for the State to gain an upper hand in cultural tourism sector also bagged the coveted PATA Gold Award. The curtain will go up on ‘Utsavam 2008-2009’ with Minister for Tourism Kodiyeri Balakrishnan lighting the lamp at Tirunakkara Maidan in Kottayam on December 8. A specially choreographed two-hour show presenting the folk arts, classical dances, traditional and tribal art forms will be the highlight of the function.

Various art forms of Kerala, including dance and dance-based programmes, will be staged from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between December 20 and March 29 at select 23 venues in the 14 districts. In all, 805 programmes will be held compared to the 684 programmes staged as part of the festival last year. Over 70 art forms will be presented during the festival.

The State-level advisory committee of ‘Utsavam’ chaired by Mr. Balakrishnan met here on Wednesday and reviewed the arrangements for the festival. The Minister gave instructions to set up organising committees in all venues by roping in representatives of local bodies, cultural leaders and NGOs.

Renowned artistes will present ‘Arabanmuttu,’ ‘Arjunanrutham’, ‘Chattu,’ ‘Chonanpattu’, ‘Gadhika,’ ‘Ivar Kali’ ‘Mangalamkali,’ ‘Thacholikkali’, ‘Ninabali’, ‘Mulamchenda’, ‘Malayankettu’, ‘Thangalum Padayum’ and ‘Thayambaka.’

The District Tourism Promotion Councils has been entrusted with the task of organising the events in all the districts. A sum of Rs.1.6 crore has been set aside in the budget for the festival.

“Importance has been given to the tourist destinations while selecting the venues for the festival. This is aimed in attracting tourists and thereby developing these destinations,” says festival coordinator T.V. Prashant.

Kovalam and Varkala are the two venues selected in Thiruvananthapuram.

Two centres in and around tourist spots in Kollam, Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Kannur and one each in Pathanamthitta, Malampuzha, Wayanad and Idukki have been identified as venues.

Lecture-demonstration sessions will also be held. Senior performing artistes in various fields will be honoured during the days of the fest.

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

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