14 out of 17, Mandya team still goes on

The National Youth Festival (NYF) which will kick-off in port city today seemed to be a first time experience for many participants, but for Keelara Suresh who hails from Mandya, it is an annual event he looks forward to participate every year.

KVSS Kala Balaga performing Nandi Kambada Kunitha, a traditional folk dance of Karnataka, in one of the programmes.Suresh who leads the team KVSS Kala Balaga has been participating in NYF for the 14th time in the last 17 years.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Suresh recollects his experiences in different NYFs he has participated over the years. “I was around 21 when I participated in the first NYF held at Bhopal in 1995. I had put up a show of the different folk dances in Karnataka. It was an enriching experience and from then, there was no looking back,” says Suresh.

“The folk dances we present are liked by all as we bring out the essence of rural Karnataka,” reveals Sureh who adds that they have learned the dance from their ancestors.

“We are all agriculturalists by profession. My father taught me the different dances and I am passing it on to my children. However, with modernisation, we do not want this folk heritage to be wiped out. We even coach interested students by visiting schools,” he says.

KVSS Kala Balaga slogged hard with an aim to win the first place at national-level. Their dream came true when they received the winning trophy in the folk dance category at NYF held at Udaipur in 2011.

“We put up a colourful show of 14 different folk dances of the state in a span of 15 minutes. We presented the Pooja Kunitha, Nandi Kambada Kunitha, Maragalu Kunitha, Vanaha Kunitha, Veerabhadra Kunitha, Dollu Kunitha, Pattada Kunitha, Ranga Kunitha, Karagadha Kunitha, Somana Kunitha, Charmavadhya, Kahalay,Chattari Chamare and Thambittu Kalasa,” says Suresh.

The team has also won the second place at the NYF held at Andhra Pradesh in 2005 and Amritsar in 2009. The team was selected to represent India at the International Youth Festival held at China.

The team has decided not to participate this year, in order to give a chance to other teams.

“We have already achieved our dream and we want other teams to achieve theirs. This year NYF is being organised for the first time in Karnataka state and we want to be good hosts. We are putting up a show of the different dances at the inaugural ceremony,” says Suresh who adds that they shall participate in the NYFs to be held in future. “Thanks to NYF, I have made a lot of friends, learned about different cultures and visited many places. This exchange programme builds a spirit of unity among all diversities,” he concludes.

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