With the art and dance forms of Karnataka, Telengana and neighbouring Kerala making the major portion of the so called 4 day “Kanyakumari Festival” happening now at the Poomphar Urban Haat in Kanyakumari Town, the event has turned out to be a farce as the people, arts & culture of Kanyakumari has been exclusively excluded from being showcased at the festival. Then, on what logic is KKTTDC calling it the Kanyakumari Festival?
A festival that should have served as a showcase to the Cultural vibrancy of Kanyakumari, highlighting our proud literary lineage, eventful History and pride-able Heritage the so called Mannin Thiruvilaa of Kanyakumari has turned north and west in search of talent to showcase the deepest South. Now, it has turned out to be a well-planned prank that Kanyakumari District TTDC played on us, as the program list has no event featuring anything locally connected to Kanyakumari.
The TTDC Fairs and Festivals, otherwise, are intended at realizing Tamilnadu’s undiscovered tourist potential. On paper, here are the original intentions of organising the District level TTDC Festivals & Fairs -
• Promoting Tamil Nadu as an attractive tourist destination at the International level
• Preserving the rich cultural heritage and monuments of architectural splendor
• Exploit Tourism potential of these monuments
• Positioning Tamil Nadu as a visible global brand in Tourism
• Enhancing Tamil Nadu Tourism’s market within India
A the Kanyakumari Festival though, Kanyakumari’s Iconic monuments have been given the skip; so has been, all the rest of the interesting elements that make Kanyakumari whole. How would KKTTDC promote the local brand Kanyakumari as a tourist destination when it is showcasing artists from Kerala, Telengana, and Karnataka at an event exclusively meant for local tourism promotion?
Why have been the People of Kanyakumari, the arts, and crafts, the skills and talents of the people of Kanyakumari been wilfully excluded from the festival, denying our only chance to showcase ourselves at our own only Tourism Festival for the whole calendar year of 2018?
Why was it turned to look like an excuse for an event and a name-sake joke with even a dog show, magic show & film show included to fill spaces in the loosely packed event list, while Kanyakumari’s men and women weren’t invited to put on show while we still have all the potential to celebrate a festival in the scale of the Kumari Sangamam of 2011. Yes...even if it were in a scaled down version!
Called the Mannin Thiruvilla, the way the event has been planned it looks obvious that the need arose from the urgent need to file receipts for the unspent money in the KK Tourism Department coffers. But the 2018 Govt Tourism Policy note has no festival outlined for Kanyakumari either in May or in July. Then on whose initiative was this Festival organised?
Why did KKTTDC go looking for artistes and dancers out of Kanyakumari district while the purpose of the Festival itself was to highlight each District’s Cultural heritage, arts, music, food, and culture is anybody’s guess in an era of cuts and commissions on all Government projects. The KKTTDC doesn’t have any pressing need to forego this culture prevalent in most of the State Government offices of Kanyakumari district and lose mileage or stand out as impotent to perform normal Government duties (getting bribed) when contemporaries in other departments are outperforming each other! On the second night of the event, a few artists from Kanyakumari were invited in a hurry through the phone on the orders of the district collector, as if he suddenly realised this festival is about Kanyakumari and not Telengana or Karnataka. Ironically, it has been named Mannin Kalai Vilaa!
In fact, the last event of every night was a movie that was played on a giant screen – a stupid event, in an age of hand-held movie screens. Add to that a magic show on the last day. Who really is their target audience? There hundreds of movies being made in Kanyakumari locales and with hundreds of local amateur film makers around looking for a platform to showcase their talent, did they get a chance to air their creations at the Kanyakumari Festival? Do the movies being aired have any relevance to the event or the locale or to tourism at all? Answer – Yes! You guessed it right! A big NOOO!
As if Kanyakumari is short of dancers, swimmers, climbers, runners, artists, artisans, craftsmen, singers, dancers, painters, sculptors – they went out of our town, looking for talent as far as Telengana! That is what brings me to the question, how did the Collector or whoever was the signatory authority approve this programme list and the search for talent crossing the borders of many states, while the festival was intended to showcase the local arts and culture.
Infact Kanyakumari needs very little promotion as the Geography and spirituality drive the tourists to the deepest south of India. Thus, during regular working days, these officers at Kanyakumari’s TTDC have very little to do. All the years' efforts culminate in events as such, which are limited to 1 a year. At least the planners of the event could have spent a little thought in doing any justice to the already realized tourist potential of Kanyakumari, by trying to shape the event into an authentic local experience which had the potential to be a definitive tourist attraction for this season. After all, this one event in the whole calendar year is all they had to plan for. KK TTDC Failed!
And we cannot blame them for what they did! As they had no hand or even one tiny little finger in drawing tourist to Kanyakumari in the name of tourism, they still know nothing or have to know nothing about it and still will retire in peace drawing pensions from 58. In the effort scale, Kanyakumari’s Nature & Tourism enthusiasts and volunteers have done more on Social media, that has any officer in KK TTDC.
Community based tourism, a part of the running Eco tourism project in Kalikesam never figured in the list of events. Neither local attractions, nor the local people's involvement, were sought to put Kanyakumari on display, while the TTDC itself has named the Southern Circuit as the Pilgrimage and Eco Circuit - covering Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Kanniyakumari Districts and Western Ghats area.
After all this is not an event in the scale of Kumari Sangamam 2011. That was pure Kanyakumari cultural showcasing – the best of us. For any and every spectator/participant/volunteer at the event, there was much to learn and own up about Kanyakumari from it. After Kumari Sangamam 2011, the biggest cultural event in recent Kanyakumari’s cultural calendar, ever thing else including the Summer Festivals hosted in April/May pales in scale and every other event through the years have had nothing to do with the local culture and has never come close to be even be compared to the indomitable feat attained by Kumari Sangamam.
At Kumari Sangamam, there was representation from every segment of the society and every discernable element of local culture on display. That was a festival that truly celebrated the invisible threads that hold us together inspite of our differences, brought out the variations in culture even within a small geography & remembered our uphill history and paid tribute to the glory of age-old Kanyakumari in its present form today. It was an inclusive, grand celebration of our local identity that instilled a sense of pride in being called the “local”, in the age when Globalization had begun to tighten the noose around our necks.
The Kanyakumari Festival was a total waste of effort and resources, which infact could have been put to good use if it had been intended and planned to make an impact of any kind. The question here is who is the target audience? Lack of accountability has us staring at a blank wall for an answer. In the end, the only reason that seems sound to accept seems TTDC’s felt need to replace the allotted money with the receipts – and in the process have a reason to celebrate too – ofcourse, not to deny the possibility of celebrating Kanyakumaris’s Festival with the flavors of Karnataka, Telengana & Karnataka. Enjoy KK TTDC! Kanyakumari celebrates its public servants as much as they enjoy the easy life Kanyakumari has to Offer! Enjoy it while there is still honey and money left! Happy Staycation Officers!
The Ananthankulam Boat House Narrative
Bolting out of the blue, an announcement about the TTDC Kumari Vilaa/ KK Festival was made in the local newspapers 2 or 3 days before the event opened. An hour before the start of the Boat race at Ananthankulam on the second day of the event, there was a Mobile PAS pleading with the locals to participate or play spectator to the event happening at the pond. Not many in the locale knew beforehand what was to happen at the pond. That way there was a very little crowd or local spectators to the Boat Race though all of the Mediamen active in Kanyakumari district had been invited, amounting to 30 or 40 men, who also made the major portion of the crowd. Add a few Tourism Dept. Staff, and the count reached 50-60 odd. Lack of crowds had delayed the entry of the VIP who was on the way for more than an hour till there was enough crowd (60) + 18 participants to fill a few frames for the next morning’s newspapers. The event got over after two rounds of a pedal boat race, now a popular culture catching up with the locals of Nagercoil. That way TTDC showcased the latest trend of boating in a Nagercoil pond. You will also get to glimpse it in today’s newspapers. Thus, we, a few of us, 60 to be approximate celebrated Kumari Vila in Nagercoil yesterday and weren’t we happy about it? Pls repeat soon. Till then, we’ll be waiting for you!