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Onam: A flagship cultural spectacle of Kerala colleges' alumni

Anoop Anil Devan
Filed on August 27, 2020 | Last updated on August 31, 2020 at 03.19 pm
AKCAF members with Vipul, former CG of India in Dubai

Besides, being one of the largest socio-cultural initiatives functioning in UAE, the members of AKCAF include prominent personalities from leading industries who are actively engaged in humanitarian initiatives

For AKCAF UAE, the apex body representing the whole spectrum of former students of over 150 Kerala colleges, Onam has always been the flagship cultural spectacle since the forum's inception more than 20 years ago.

Even the very concept of setting up such a vibrant networking platform for former college students from Kerala had its origin when an initiative was launched in the 1990's to organise Onam celebration under the auspices of individual college alumni forum every year.

The first such Onam festival was held way back in 1995 with the CMS College of Kottayam leading the organising  team.  The second Onam event was held under the auspices of Fatima Mata National College Kollam, followed by other colleges including, TKM Engineering College Kollam, playing the lead role in conducting the national festival of Malayalees with spectacular stage shows and cultural extravaganza.

Since the inception of AKCAF, the responsibility of organising Onam celebrations was undertaken by the apex body on behalf of all member colleges numbering around 60 institutions initially. Starting with Onam, over the years, AKCAF was behind several other cultural and arts festivals, including Youth Festival for UAE school children, and arts festivals, sports events and cricket tournaments for former college students.

As a networking platform of all college educated expatriates in the UAE and other GCC countries, AKCAF, since its inception in 1998, has been playing a lead role in stimulating the cultural and social life of its member colleges.  

Given the mandatory restrictions and social distancing protocol necessitated by Covid-19, this year AKCAF has confined its activities to online medium. Already, AKCAF has announced an online arts festival to herald the festive season. The mega AKCAF Kalamela, lining up more than 2,500 on-line contestants in celebration of the Great Reset the whole world is facing, is also an eloquent testimony to the incredible revival of the UAE's vibrant social and cultural ecosystem from the pandemic doldrums.  Indeed, the arts festival will be an expression of AKCAF's solidarity with this nation's incredible resilience.

Participation in AKCAF Kalamela is open to all former students of Kerala colleges who are aged 22 years or above. An "all-women organising team" led by Julin Bency  has selected 17 categories for the online contest. The response has been overwhelming with participants from 160 colleges registering for the online contest. Winners will be announced within days after several panels of judges select the best talents from more than 2,500 contestants. The grand finale and prize distribution ceremony will be staged live in the near future when the pandemic restrictions will subside.

Another online contest AKCAF is staging for Onam 2020 is the "Pookalam Contest" (floral carpet) competition for all member colleges. As the organizer of the world's largest floral carpet, "The Flowers of Tolerance" on behalf of the Ministry of Tolerance, the forum secured the Guinness World Record for the breathtaking feat held to mark the finale of UAE's "Year of Tolerance."

AKCAF Task Force, which is the organising arm of the forum, is led by  Issac Pattaniparambil (Chief Patron), Shahul Hameed (Chairman), Charls Paul (President),VS Bijukumar (Gen. Secretary),  Riva Philipose (Treasurer), Anoop Anil Devan (Chief Coordinator), Manoj KV (Joint Secretary), Judin Fernandez (Joint Treasurer),  Adv. Hashik and Syam V (General Managers), and Koshy Idikula (General Convener).

Humanitarian efforts
AKCAF Task Force has been an integral part of several humanitarian missions during the Covid-19 lockdown and repatriation flight programme. During the last few months, AKCAF has initiated several humanitarian tasks to help those in distress. It has formed a special "Task Force" to ensure an active role in every humanitarian activity that is happening in UAE and even in Kerala.

Within a short span of time the Task Force has been able to play a vital role in various relief efforts, including the provision of free air tickets to close to 350 people; organising five chartered flights, including one full free flight; repatriation support at the Consulate General of India; emergency blood donation camp at Latheefa hospital for Thalassemia children; food and medicine distribution;  telemedicine and consultation; support for Norka; support for quarantine facilities (provided 200 beds and other supplies), and hospitalisation  and travel support. Apart from these, the forum distributed 100 TV sets to the underprivileged children to support their studies in Kerala.


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