LA Fest: History, Their Stories

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)


  • Hi Ashok,
    Nice to read that article on LA Fest. Still remember the time when Vivek&Party organised the first LA Fest. Though we were disappointed we couldnt get involved in the main show we didnt have to wait too long to get a chance to do so.

    I remember some teachers still telling us in 1999 that how well the first LA fest had been conducted being the first time we were hosting it.

    As Ninan Thomas had said in the concluding day speec h of LA Fest 1998
    ‘If we can dream it, we can do it’ and in the case of LA Fest the Loyolites have been proving that for the past 10 years and will do so in the coming years!!

  • Karthik, I think it was a good move to start LA Fest. By changing the events each year, the festival has avoided the staleness that creeps into traditional youth festivals. I’ve sometimes felt that the organisers go into avoidable frenzy. By now, there should be more maturity in the presentation style.

  • Ashok chetta, for all the “best ever ever” syndromes going around, the boys are doing a good job year after year…Let’s give them the credit…But its a fact that the ‘Loyolite’ is more into self back-patting and smugness nowadays…Gone are the days of Father Pulickal and Father Thayil…But are the boys to be blamed for that? Let’s face it, our alma mater’s also now into the rat race for “the best ever” as you so aptly put it…But I never had a doubt that we’re the best, did you?
    Lieutenant Renjith Varghese
    ISC ’99

  • Renjith, as long as visitors and organisers have fun, no one will complain about the festival that flashes by. But from this here-and-now view, step back and look at all the LA Fests — has LA Fest really progressed as a festival idea? The school magazine, which had a predictable format in the 1980s, took a different turn in the mid-1990s, and a dramatic turn three years ago. Somebody who has attended most LA Fests can shed light on this.

    Can we say that Loyola was the best? I think Loyola was good, not great.

  • Ashok chetta,
    Again let me begin by congratulating you on another well written post.

    And yes the race has alwyas been there.. no batch will say that theirs was not the best
    but if you ask me.. it all comes down to the quality of participation.
    we were lucky to get 16 schools in the audience
    and some really good people on stage
    anyways.. ive done a fair bit on the report of last years..i have a feeling you read it.. else its on the orkut communities.. if you scroll back.. or on the blog
    anyways. came to say i wrote another
    keep writing
    il too hehe

  • Syam, thank you for the tip-off — I’ll read your Orkut reports. Liked the one on your blog. Organisers’ reports could try to be as credible as outsiders’ reports and Orkut exchanges.

  • I always looked at LAFEST with awe… something which never took off earlier.
    What the LOBA QUIZ Competitions couldnt garner, LAFEST simply did.
    The contribution of LOBA towards LAFEST remained the same, that of a nominal financial contribution… and of course, a couple of judges…
    I was also associated as a Judge once, along with Vivek, for the competitions some years back.

    What comes again to my memory are the Youth Festival days in the early Seventies.
    The School Youth Festival was a for-the-sake event. Budgetory allocation was scarce.
    No big stages… no suremikes… no make up materials… no hi tech amplifiers…and crowded green rooms.
    Vertical stand supporting mikes, two ore three in numbers, were invariably needed for drama sessions. Curtain pulling remained a tough exercise… without synchronism…yet a feat of uncles lauded by many. Competitions were conducted class wise. There were no Staff members specifically put in charge. (We didnt have Deepa Pillai then)
    And then, the opportunity came. We had a compulsory session to speak in the School Assemly. While the popular topics were Great Scientists, National Integration, and so on, I chose to speak on the need to view Extra Curriccular activities seriously.
    Fr. C. P. Varkey was then Vice Principal (but, of course with the power of Principal).
    To my surprise, most of my suggestions were implemented in the forthcoming Sports Meet and Youth Festival. Competitions became House wise in Youth Festival also. Student and Staff coordinators took over for various tasks in Sports and Youth Festival. Sufficients Funds allotted, Audio visual aids procured, new programs like shadow play, … and so on. I still enjoy looking at those old Certificates…. Mono Act… Elocution…. Declamation…Shadow Play….Drama… Malayalam… English.

    Not many of the Loyolites remember that Joseph Uncle had contributed a lot…. scripting and directing dramas and skits….

    We need to grow and grow…. search for those unheard melodies… which will always be better. I am sure that our boys will grow with LAFEST and also that LAFEST will grow with them!

    M. Pradeep Kumar,
    Past President- LOBA,
    1974 Batch

  • Sorry Mr. Ashok i didn’t mean to shout at anyone. i went to the website you gave me but can you explain how the prelims will be, both the written and interviews.

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