Indian cultural fiesta begins with Keralolsavam 2017

Kerala carnival


Saudi Gazette

A TWO-day Kerala Festival was organized in Jeddah last weekend with hundreds of artists, mostly students of community schools, enthralling visitors with their stunning performances of folk art in a picturesque display of India’s cultural diversity.

Several thousand people, mainly families, turned out for the spectacular event on the premises of the Consulate General of India. Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh inaugurated the event in the presence of diplomats and community leaders.

Jeddah Keralites Forum (JKF), an umbrella body of community organizations based in Jeddah, hosted the cultural extravaganza, in association with the consulate as part of the India@70 celebrations.

The Kerala festival will be followed by other state festivals. The celebrations will feature folk arts of various regions and provinces with the goal of introducing India’s cultural diversity to Saudis and foreign residents, in order to coax them to visit the country.

“This festival gives our Saudi friends a message about Kerala and other regions of the country. I have met many Saudi friends who knew India through Kerala. It is a matter of great pride for all of you. Keralites are known for hard work and their unity for common causes,” Sheikh said while inaugurating the festival.

The people of Kerala have a very rich culture, tradition, art and literature. The state has its indigenous industry and is famous for medical tourism with a large number of hospices that offer rejuvenating Ayurveda treatment.

The idea of the celebrations was also to reconnect the Indian diaspora with the cultures of their respective states, Sheikh said.

Many visitors were denied entry into the festival venue due to space limitations.

“The huge turnout has made accommodation an issue, but if our hearts are large enough, issues of space will fade way fast,” Sheikh told the audience that packed the consulate grounds.

The event kicked off with a colorful procession, showcasing the diverse traditions of Kerala.The festival was sort of a carnival with stalls and pavilions offering different activities and stage shows that reflected the state’s unique culture. The event turned the consulate premises into a mini Kerala.

Mohiniyattam, Bharata Natyam, Margam Kali, Kathakali, Oppana, Daff Muttu and Kolkkali performances mesmerized the audience. Around 50 girls presented Tiruvathirakali, a traditional dance performed by women in order to attain everlasting marital bliss on Thiruvathira day in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January).

“Poothathirayattam,” a dramatic visualization of “Poothappattu”, the masterpiece of the renowned poet Idasseri Govindan Nair, stole the show. The musical was conceived by Anil Narayanaand and choreographed by Shelna Vijay.

There were many stalls showcasing the art and craft of Kerala. Saleena Musafir’s “Surabhilam” was a major attraction with an array of her collections of handicrafts and embroidery work.

Musafir said all the exhibits were her own creation. Nearly 20 saris embroidered with pearls, and ornaments made of clay and waste paper, including the jimikki kammal, a traditional ear stud again made famous by a recent movie song, were on display.

A replica of Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram was one of the many attractions. “Anachandam” with a model elephant drew many visitors to take selfie shots.

“Anybody Can Sing”, a pavilion set up by the Jeddah chapter of Calicut Music Lovers, had a live orchestra team readily available for anybody who liked to sing with Kozhikode beach in the background.

There were several “Thattukadas” arranged in the style of traditional Kerala tea shops.

The Kalaripayattu pavilion, the traditional martial art of Kerala, was another crowd puller.

A photo exhibition organized by Reflection, an organization of photographers, shed light on the major tourist attractions in Kerala.

Another attraction was a house boat with a quiz program related to Kerala and tourism. Many visitors bagged attractive prizes by correctly answering the questions.

A pavilion was arranged to introduce Kerala tourism for the visitors and to provide guidance on the places and time of visit, and the mode of transportation.

An essay writing competition for students as well as tug of war and football matches were held earlier. Over the two days a total of about 8,500 people visited the event.