THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thirty-nine-year-old Asma distinctly remembers how she used to be sidelined at the various arts programmes in the school. Although she loved to sing, there was no platform to explore her artistic talent. For someone who couldn’t ace the Class X exam, the world of knowledge always remained a distant dream for Asma, a transgender. Now Asma is earnestly training so that she and her team can win competitions at the arts fest being organised for the learners of Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA).
In a first, the city will play host to the ninth edition of the ‘State Continuing Education Festival’ today. The fest is being organised for the learners in the continuing education programme of KSLMA. Over 1,400 learners will showcase their creative prowess in as many as 153 cultural events.
“Growing up, I was never included in the arts programmes in the school. So, having our own arts fest helps us showcase our talents. It is a great platform for all of us, as we never thought we could ever get a chance to participate in such festivals. It takes us back to our school days and what we missed out,” said Asma who hopes to continue her studies and earn a degree.
The same sentiment is shared by Luciya Francis who dropped out of school in Class IV. “The circumstances at home weren’t conducive for continuing education. So, years later when the opportunity presented itself, I started learning,” said the 59-year-old. “I used to take my daughter around for all the art fests till she reached to the district level. It used to be my wish to always participate in the arts fest. So this opportunity is a dream come true,” said Luciya.
The fest will see the participation of 67 transgenders and 75 migrant labourers who will be participating in separate categories. Larger participation is seen from the capital in both categories. The learners who constitute from all walks of life including fishermen communities, tribal communities, colonies and so on will be at their artistic best for three days. Last year, Malappuram was crowned winners. “There are many learners who are exceptionally talented and who do not get to showcase their talents. This is their opportunity to get into their creative self,” said P S Sreelatha, director, KSLM. “This year, in a first, the transgenders and migrant labourers will be competing in a separate categories,” she added.
A cultural procession will be taken out by the learners from all districts from Manaveeyam Veedhi to University College from 3pm on Friday, launching the start of the festivities. Competitions will be held in five venues at University College. On Friday, the arts fest will start off with a thiruvathira performance for all categories at Venue 1 while folk dance and group dance competitions will be held at Venue 2. A wide range of competitions are included in the events such as classical dance, folk dance, music, mono act, mimicry, essay writing, drawing, painting, poetry recitation, fancy dress, kathaprasangam and so on. A special competition for KSLM instructors will also be held. The valedictory function will be held on Sunday and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will be the chief guest.