Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 20 (PTI) Kerala’s prestigious annual Nishagandhi dance festival commenced here tonight, with Kerala Governor P Sathasivam inaugurating the event. Also Read - Good News! India's Oldest Covid-19 Survivor, Wife Discharged in Kerala

The governor also presented the prestigious ‘Nishagandhi Puraskaram 2018’ to renowned Bharatanatyam dancers, V P Dhananjayan and Shantha Dhananjayan, at the function. Also Read - Speaking in Fluent Bengali, Shashi Tharoor Requests Migrant Workers to Remain In Kerala | Watch

The award comprises cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh, a statuette and citation. Also Read - No Door Delivery of Liquor in Kerala: High Court Stays Govt Decision

Congratulating the legendary dancing couple, the governor said, “The Nishagandhi Puraskaram that has been presented to them is a token of the love, respect and appreciation that the people of Kerala have for this extraordinary, made-for-each-other dancing couple.” He said though classical art forms had gained larger acceptance among the tourists, the folk arts and artistes remain relatively ignored.

“I think we should also strengthen the activities to promote folk arts, so as to encourage and support the artistes who may be struggling due to lack of opportunities,” he said.

Presiding over the function, State Tourism minister, Kadakampally Surendran said the festival had gained a status on par with internationally renowned dance fests like the Khajuraho, Mahabalipuram and Konark Dance festivals.

Though the event had started as a dance and music festival, the Nishagandhi festival was made into a dance-focused event so as to make it a much sought after dance event, he said.

The minister said music festival, ‘Monsoon Raga’, has now become a well-known cultural event.

An award, on the lines of the Nishagandhi Puraskaram, will be presented to renowned musicians as part of the Monsoon Raga musical event every year, he added.PTI UD BN

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.