Thiruvananthapuram: Iconic composer Ilayaraja has been chosen for this year's prestigious Nishagandhi Puraskaram, instituted by the Kerala Government.
The award comprises a sum of Rs 1,50,000, citation and a statuette.
The 72-year-old maestro is being conferred the honour for his artistic excellence and contribution to the Indian film music industry, state Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar told reporters here last evening.
A recipient of the Padma Bhushan, Tamil Nadu-born Ilayaraja is hailed for raising the bar of mainstream music by fusing Indian folk music with various elements of Western classical to create a new genre that is hugely popular across regions and generations.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will present the award to Ilayaraja at Kanakakkunnu Palace here during the inaugural ceremony of the Nishagandi festival, the annual dance and music event commencing on January 20.
A panel, comprising vice-Chancellor of the Malayalam University and the former Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, senior Journalist Gouridasan Nair, Kerala Tourism Secretary G Kamala Vardhana Rao and Tourism Director P I Sheikh Pareeth, selected the legendary musician for the honour.
Anil Kumar also released the Nishagandhi brochure for 2016 and inaugurated the 30-sec promotional video of the fest.
The eight day-long Nishagandhi festival will begin this year with classical sitar concert by Anoushka Shankar, the daughter of legendary instrumentalist Pandit Ravi Shankar.
Alongside, there will be a Kathakali festival from January 20 to 26, where Kathakali master Padmasree Kalamandalam Gopi will be performing on 26.
There will also be a food festival, organised by the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation. Tourism Director Sheik Pareeth said the department is coming up with a package that includes trade, tour operators and airlines for the benefit of international audience who wish to be a part of the festival.