When the three-day long tribal youth festival ended in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, students who had performed past midnight and kept the audience awake till 1 and 2 am became heroes on stage. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, impressed by their spirit, said the festival would be conducted in a much better manner next year.
It is called Sargotsavam, the state youth festival conducted under the Scheduled Tribes Development department. “Why is this needed when there is the regular state youth festival that happens every year, you may ask,” festival coordinator Shinu says before you ask him. “Because many of the traditional art forms you see in the tribal parts of the state are not included in the competition items of the regular youth festival,” he explains, standing in front of the Nishagandhi Auditorium at the Kanakakkunnu Palace where the performances are staged.
This is the sixth edition of the fest, the first to be held in the state capital. It is the best of the Sargotsavams so far, Minister for SC/ST Development AK Balan said on the final day.
More than 1,300 students from 20 Model Residential Schools (MRS) and 112 hostels participated. Some of them are experiencing city life for the first time. “They were showcasing the dance and music and culture of the places they come from, art forms only they might be aware of,” Shinu says. It is the curiosity to see these rare art forms that pulled people to the event and kept them there so late in the night.
There was Gaddika, a ritualistic art form of Wayanad, performed by the Adiya tribe and believed to cure diseases. There was Malapulayayattam, performed by Malapulayar community of Munnar. And Kurumbar Nirtham, which is performed by the Kurumba tribe of Attappady during weddings.
The festival will help, and already has helped, bring these art forms into the mainstream, Shinu says. “It’s also all friendly between the students. You won’t see the kind of pushing and pulling to win prizes like at the regular youth festival, especially the competition between the parents.”
Prizes won would get the students grace marks in their 10th and 12th final exams. There were 32 competition items, including dance, music, mono act and drama. Most of these came with themes of social relevance or current affairs.
Plays were themed on current affairs. Protection of public education, criticism of the caste system, and many other social and cultural subjects became topics. Some of these were satires. Students of Noolpuzha Rajiv Gandhi MRS presented writer Basheer’s characters on stage. The children belonging to the Kaatunayakan tribe who mostly speak their mother tongue, surprised the audience with fluent Malayalam. Twenty-eight teams participated in the drama competition.
Terrorism, family ties being destroyed, self-financing education and other socially relevant themes were chosen by students participating in mono act. For group dance, the kids depicted epic tales and new social issues like drug abuse among young.
Kattela MRS School won the overall championship with 156 points. Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) Attappady MRS School and Kasargode MRS School were runners-up, both with 140 points. Ettumanoor MRS came in the third place with 135 points. The Chief Minister gave away the prizes to the winners.
In the seniors’ category, Sujatha Subhran of Chalakudy MRS was crowned the Kalathilakam with 20 points. Anand P of Kulathupuzha MRS became the Kalaprathibha with 17 points. In the juniors’ category, Elizabeth Antony of Kaniyambetta MRS became the Kalathilakam winning 16 points and Manikandan of Kaniyambetta MRS won 13 points to become the Kalaprathibha.
Ajish P of Noolpuzha Rajiv Gandhi NRS won best actor for his performance in the play Kathapathrangal Katha Parayumpol. Ayana was crowned best female actor for her performance in the play Kannadi. She is from Kasargod Paravanadukkam MRS High School.