KOCHI: It is 10 am. As per schedule, the Higher Secondary School mohiniyattom competitions were to begin at 9 am. Yet, the venue is empty. NCC cadets direct newcomers to various venues. Green rooms are replete with participants, caked in makeup, awaiting the programme to begin. When asked if the competition would begin sooner, one of them said, "Might start at 11. Everything is delayed." The 31st Ernakulam Revenue District School Kalolsavam has started on a note devoid of the usual festival trappings. Owing to the destruction caused by the floods, the government had decided to conduct the Kalolsavam in a rather simple manner, sans inauguration and valedictory events.
Held at the GHSS, Ernakulam; Girls’ UPS Hall, Ernakulam; Girls’ High School; SRV School Auditorium; SRV UP School Hall; SRV School Kasturirangan Hall; Shikshak Bhavan Hall and St Joseph’s UPS, Karithala, day one witnessed the regularities of a Kalolsavam yet the enthusiasm of the participants made up for the lacklustre atmosphere.
Oppana participants of Vidyadhiraja Vidhyabhavan HSS, Aluva, the Revenue District Champions for the past 25 years, are geared up to prove their prowess on stage. "The floodwaters entered most of our houses. Yet, it is no obstacle. We participate every year and we have retained the same spirit this year too," says Aishwarya, decked in jewels, awaiting their turn.
Muhsina, a fellow participant, vouches for her teachers. "After the floods, we were doubtful if the event would be conducted. Every year, it is celebrated with splendour at our school and we look forward to it. Nevertheless, we practised and here we are," she says.
Almost 11, the first event,mohiniyattom begins. The participants move to the backstage with their teachers.
It is indeed bewildering that the strenuous delays don't seem to bother the participants. Nandini, from Paravoor HSS, stands alone, sweating in the hot sun, her makeup miraculously intact."We are used to the delays. Thing is, most of us from Paravoor didn't think we would ever make it. Water had entered our houses and the school itself was converted to a relief camp. We barely got two-weeks' practice," she says, smiling, resilience evident on her face.
At the Adhyapika Bhavan, the venue for oppana, the aura is brighter. "Kalolsavam is a part of the school. Why must we associate it to the floods?," says Annlia, the oppana bride from SNMHSS Moothakunnam.
"Our places were wrecked but the support we received from the teachers was tremendous. We usually receive awards every year. It might not be the same this year but why not go for it," the enthusiastic girl quips.
Not all participants received support from their teachers, though. "The floods hampered our funds. Therefore, we had decided to not make it this year. But, the persistence of students overruled our stance and we agreed," says Nafisa, teacher and coordinator, oppana team, HIHSS, Edavenakad."When we reached here, we were really sad to see other teams in better outfits and jewels. We didn't really have enough money to afford much. It does not matter now. We wanted to get onshore despite obstacles from the floods and our teachers, and we will make it," says Fida, participant.