Another festival ends

WITHOUT MUCH fanfare and publicity, yet another festival came to a close in Kochi on Sunday. Four days of competitions in art and sports staged at 12 venues in the city did not attract as many people as they should otherwise have. Keralotsavam-2001 was by and large a damp affair, despite having fielded 2,000-odd artistes and athletes from across the State.

Posters sporting the bust of Dr. M.A. Kuttappan, Minister for SC/ST and Youth Welfare, were seen on almost all walls in the city. Certainly the posters gave one the impression that the event had more to do with politics than with culture, art or sport.

In spite of the lacklustre coverage the event received in the local media, the State-level competitions of art forms, including some rare ones, had an inherent charm. Although sparse and largely unsporting, the audience at some venues witnessed appreciable presentations by artistes from even the remotest areas in the State.

Competitions in a dance form called `garudan parava', staged at Maharaja's College auditorium, turned out to be unique largely because of its ethnicity. This solo dance form of Malabar had the artiste perform like an eagle, sporting a pair of large wings and a bill. The graceful and agile movements of the dancer to the tune of chenda held the audience in rapt attention. Sadly, not a single audience member did clap when the last performer bowed and the curtain fell. But the crimson face of a solitary foreign tourist, who enthused in clicking pictures of `garudan parava', said the dance form was unique.

Another event which turned out to be outstanding on the final day was `mayoora nritham', a peacock dance form from Idukki and neighbouring areas.

The artistes who came through the competitions held earlier at panchayat and district levels vied for points in various events such as folk dance, one-act play, kuchipudi, thiruvathirakkali, kathakali, oppana, mimicry, tabla, mridangam, light music, folk music, marggam kali, bharatanatyam, mohiniyattom, vaipattu, carnatic music, mapila songs, elocution, flute, harmonium, sitar, guitar, ottamthullal, clay modelling, painting, essay writing, pencil drawing, panchavadyam, theyyam, padayani, etc.

While all the 14 districts took part in folk dance competition presenting their ethnic dance forms, some other events like the `mayura nritham' and `garudan parava' confined to specific areas.

Competitions were also held in sporting events like shuttle badminton, swimming, judo, karate, arm wrestling, kalarippayattu, soccer, volleyball, kabadi, gymnastics and athletics.

The individual winners received a cash prize of Rs. 750 and runners-up Rs. 400. In group events, each member of the winning team got Rs. 300 and the runner-up Rs. 150. All the participants were given travelling allowance as well as merit certificates.

A media centre with fairly good facilities functioned at Maharaja's College, the main venue, on all the days. But the number of mediamen or women who visited the centre was sparse. Empty files marked for each newspaper and radio and television channel were kept on a desk in good order, rather mocking an occasional visitor from the media.

Abdul Latheef Naha

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