Festival of festivals

Print edition : December 31, 2010

Tourism Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Minister for S.C./S.T. Welfare A.K. Balan inspecting-C. RATHEESHKUMAR

The 46-day Grand Kerala Shopping Festival from December 1 offers fun with shopping and travel.

THE fourth edition of the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF) has begun on December 1, 2010. The event will last 46 days. GKSF marks the convergence of trade, commerce and celebration. It provides an equitable platform to its participants traders big and small. While providing an enjoyable experience to buyers too, the shopping festival will accelerate Kerala's economy.

The GKSF has caught the world's attention within a short span of four years in contrast to other renowned festivals like the Dubai Shopping Festival, which took about seven or eight years to gain global attention. It is the only such festival to be held over a large geographical area. Moreover, the entire trading community of Kerala can participate in this festival, a phenomenon not found elsewhere.

What is the extent of participation for small-scale merchants when it comes to shopping festivals held in Dubai or Singapore? Even a small shop-owner can be part of the GKSF and offer prizes worth crores of rupees along with the products bought from his or her shop. The festival period also helps big merchants to have their sales appreciably increased. Enabling merchants of all stature to have a prosperous business season forms the broad vision of the GKSF.

It is usual for certain sections of businesspersons to abstain from participating in ventures like the GKSF. But the united effort of Kerala's merchant community has proved otherwise. Each edition of the GKSF strives for improvement and explores the scope for expansion, and traders play a crucial role in it by sharing their ideas with the government.

Since its debut, the GKSF has also accounted for an increase in tourists to Kerala. These days, on search engines such as Google, a search for shopping festival' would show a high ranking for the GKSF. The festival has also made its place on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Iconic stature

The GKSF is gradually attaining an iconic stature in modern life while enriching our traditional trade sectors. It provides a vital boost to Kerala's traditional manufacturing sectors. It has transformed into a festival of festivals' by incorporating all sections of society and providing a means for learning and experience to all.

THE FLOAT PRESENTED by the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival at the pageantry marking the conclusion of the government-sponsored Onam Week celebrations in Thiruvananthapuram in August.-S. MAHINSHA

The fourth edition of the GKSF comes with many novelties. The first is the increase in the value of the prize from 40 kg of gold in the last season to 101 kg. The latest edition of the GKSF also has many more prizes and covers more areas. There are gold prizes in the scratch-and-win category, which was included following a request from the merchant community. Other prizes include handloom products with a Made-in-Kerala' tag. We hope these innovative measures will bring a new level of satisfaction both for the sellers and the buyers.

Spread over 38,000 sq km

A shopping mall spread over 38,000 sq km that is, in essence, the GKSF. Traders from Parassala to Manjeswaram take part in it. Travellers can now have a delightful shopping experience in Kerala besides enjoying other tourist attractions. For instance, those visiting Bekal can buy exquisite handloom fabrics from Kasargod or the traditional Payyanur Pavitra Mothiram on reaching Payyanur.

In Kannur, after enjoying the attractions at Payyambalam, Muzhappillangad and Pythal Mala and, of course, the Theyyam performances, they can visit handloom manufacturing units located at Kanjirod, Chirakkal and Azhikode. They have the option of placing orders for products with new designs or have first-hand knowledge of the production processes involved.

Likewise, each district has its own unique appeal that makes travelling in Kerala during the GKSF a memorable experience. We need to popularise these unique features of Kerala and transform this small State into a hub of international shopping. Let travellers, both domestic and foreign, visit Kerala to enjoy the land and its features and also shopping during the GKSF season. We will provide all facilities for them to do so. In fact, I feel that an event like the GKSF should be more fascinating for Keralites than anybody else. I wonder how many of us know the many facets of Kerala its regions, traditional practices and customs, art, food, markets, and so on. Often we overlook these fun-filled and interesting experiences in our many struggles in life. But look at travellers coming to Kerala from outside the State. They may not be rich, but they enjoy their holidays, which provide them with enough vigour to move on with their routine life.

We have not seen or understood our land completely. The GKSF is an opportunity to do so. Let us travel and experience the land in every respect possible. And as part of the travel, we would shop at GKSF-registered shops during the 46 days of the festival. By the end of the journey, you may also get gold prizes.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is the Tourism Minister of Kerala.

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