The 57th Kerala School Kalolsavam is the second time that 18-year-old Devikiran was participating in the cultural festival. A native of the northern district of Kasargod, Devikaran is one of the many victims of Endosulfan in the state.
The use of Endosulfan pesticides in the cashew plantations in the district has left many people suffering from health issues. Many children have also been born with deformities. The SC banned the use of Endosulfan in 2012 after it was found to have adverse effect on the lives of the people.
Devikiran and his 14-year-old brother, Jeevan Raj, were born blind. Their rise to the stage has not been an easy one.
The Kalolsavam was an occasion of double joy for the family that resides in Enmagiri in Kasargod, as both Devikiran and Jeevan Raj, have excelled at the school festival. While Devikiran topped the classical music competition, his younger brother, Jeevan Raj, bagged the first prize in mimicry.
Both are students of Kasargod Government Higher Secondary School.
When The News Minute caught up with Devikiran, as he was proceeding from one venue to another on Friday, he said that his glory is sweeter for two reasons. One, this is the second consecutive year in which he has managed to secure the first place in the contest. And two, his participation at the state level happened after he'd appealed for a review of the result at the district level competition in which he'd failed to make the cut.
â€śI studied in a blind school from class 1 to class 7 and have been participating in the special youth festival every year. When I joined a normal school in Class 8, I was not able to take part in the fest for three years. I wanted toâ€¦but somehow things were not favourable. Last year, everybody encouraged me to participate and I came first both at the school level and district level,â€ť he said.
Learning classical music since the age of 6, Devikiran had to stop his training when he left the school for the blind a few years ago. But his trainer ensured that the distance between the teacher-student did not impact Devikiranâ€™s practice. He sent his talented student recordings on CDs and Devikiran learnt by listening to these.
Words fail Devikiran as he speaks about his family's happiness.
"This was my brother's first time at the Kalolsavam and I am immensely happy that even he was able to rise above his disability and win the competition," he said.