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LA Fest 2007 will be held next week. How did this inter-school arts festival organised by +2 students of Loyola, begin?

The story is recounted in ’10 Years of LA Fest’, a souvenir brought out in 2005. On page 2, under the heading ‘The Rising’ it says:

In November 1996, Vivek Krishnan, Harish K., Rahul Warrier and their 12 standard classmates pleaded with the class teacher: Madam, we need a break from the grind of textbooks and classes; let’s organise an inter-school arts festival.

The idea gathered momentum among students. But somebody had to get the green signal from the Principal Fr. Mani Manimala.

One afternoon, as the school bell rang, the teacher surrounded by students egging her on told Fr. Mani, β€œThe students have been saying that they want to organise a festival for schools in the city.” The Principal, full of energy but looking stern as ever, replied, β€œIf you are ready to take full responsibility, go ahead.”

The students who overheard this were ecstatic. The teacher who had bravely conveyed the proposal could not back out. Her students would ensure that, year after year.

The last page of the souvenir reveals who the teacher is.

LA Fest claims to be ‘an all-student affair’. But the invisible hand of 12 standard class teacher Deepa Pillai (DP) has been there in every fest since 1996. Her passion for anonymity forced us to delete her name in ‘The Rising’ (page 2). But we have the last laugh.

Every year, the school magazine’s LA Fest report captures the excitement of the fest. But I would argue that these reports do not capture the fest well. I have heard that within 2-3 days of the concluding ceremony, the student volunteers sit and critically look at their work in organising the fest. The LA Fest, in fact, ends only after that group session.

But such wonderful spirit of learning does not make its way to the school magazine. Instead, we get reports that are too self-congratulatory in tone, with each successive batch rushing to claim that they organised ‘the best LA Fest ever’. I see this whitewashing as emblematic of modern Loyola, where a culture of advertising and hype prevails. But more about that another day.

For now, best wishes to LA Fest 2007. And brothers, please write a fair report for the school mag. Or as you say in Loyola these days, the ‘best report ever’.

BONUS! Download ’10 Years of LA Fest‘ (.pdf; 0.4 MB)