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Tradition and modernity: Kerala fest showcases changing cultural mores

A couple in a kitchen,Kerala tea shops,men preparing an Onam feast,a barbeque and even a witch boiling a cauldron.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi |
November 16, 2009 4:49:53 am

A couple in a kitchen,Kerala tea shops,men preparing an Onam feast,a barbeque and even a witch boiling a cauldron. These were ideas a handful of budding painters came up with on the theme “cooking”.

The painting competition,like all other 17 competitions,epitomised what the cultural festival,Sargotsavam ‘09,stood for. It reflected the changing attitudes and preferences of the Delhi Malayali,caught between nostalgia and new-age ideas.

T K Hansan of Jansanskriti,the organisation behind the festival,says this reflection is not accidental. “We seek to be involved in every problem the Delhi Malayali faces. The competitions are designed to capture the changes in the society around us,” he says.

Sargotsavam,started in 2005 to mark 25 years of the establishment of Jansanskriti,has become the largest cultural festival of its kind in the city.

Of the 2,500 students who participated in events held at the 23 Jansanskriti branches over the past few months,the first and second prize winners locked horns at the Canning Road Kerala School during the two-day event that ended on Sunday.

“Challenges should be taken. After all,what is man if he continues to live the same life for a thousand years without change?” asked 13-year-old Swati Gangadharan,a Class-VIII student of Fr Agnel School,in her prize-winning essay on the theme “Tradition and Modernity”.

Intense preparation is a given for Sargotsavam participants. Sargotsavam doesn’t have the appeals system unique to the Kerala State Youth Festival,where contestants are allowed to appeal against decisions. The competition is fierce at times.

Hansan says: “We do not want parents to go to court over decisions here. Results are final and binding.”

Poet O N V Kurup inaugurated the closing ceremony,attended by chief guest Kerala Minister of Education and Culture,M A Baby,and poet Madhusudanan Nair.

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