Onam Week celebrations to begin on September 5

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Aug. 26. The Government-sponsored Onam Week celebrations will begin in the State capital on September 5.

The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, will inaugurate the celebrations at the Nishagandhi auditorium. Efforts are on to rope in the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, or the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, as chief guest.

The precarious financial position of the State has compelled the Government to restrict the venues this year.

The pageantry on the final day of the six-day festivities has also been cancelled. The illumination, another attraction of the celebration, will be restricted to the main venues. Generators will be used for the lighting.

``We are involving residents associations in a big way to make the celebrations a people's programme. The Tourism Department will restrict itself to the role of a coordinator,'' the Director of Tourism, Alkesh Kumar Sharma, told The Hindu.

A dance programme with focus on communal harmony will be the highlight of the inaugural programme at Nishagandhi. Choreographed and scripted by the noted theatre personality, Kavalam Narayana Panicker, the mythology, tradition and culture of the State will be portrayed in the programme.

The Kanakakunnu Palace will be the main venue of the six-day celebrations this year. The Nishagandhi auditorium will be handed over to the Federation of Residents' Association, Thiruvananthapuram, (FRAT) to stage cultural programmes.

``The cultural programmes will be presented after proper screening by a committee. We have asked them not to present cinematic dances. The department will extend all facilities to FRAT,'' Mr. Sharma said.

Folk arts will be staged at three venues -- Kanakakunnu Palace, Jawahar Balabhavan and V.J.T. Hall.

Artistes from East and Northeast will present folk arts of their region. The South Zone Cultural Centre has been entrusted with the task of coordinating the programmes.

The Karthika Tirunal Theatre at East Fort will be the venue for music programmes. Noted Carnatic and Hindustani singers are expected to perform. The Theerthapadamandapam at East Fort will be the venue for staging classical art forms.

The Tagore Theatre at Vazhuthacaud has been booked by the Department of Tourism and will be handed over to the Mohanlal Fans Club to screen films of the actor, who has completed 25 years of acting.

The department has also decided to give awards to the residents' association for the best decorated locality and ``pookkalam''.

Awards will also be given to the cleanest locality. A committee headed by an eminent person will decide the winners.

The Government has allocated Rs. 31 lakhs for the celebrations in the capital. A sum of Rs. 2.5 lakhs has also been allocated for the festivities at Akkulam and Neyyar Dam.

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