Manipur University and Bengal's Midnapore-based Vidyasagar University were the two brightest stars at the 28th Inter-university East Zone Youth Festival, the five-day event that ended in Ranchi on Tuesday.
Had there been a congeniality category, first-time host Ranchi University would have won hands down. However, the varsity did award itself a holiday on Wednesday.
The December 7-11 cultural potpourri at RDM Kala Bhavan, Hotwar, saw 500-plus students from 16 varsities showcasing their creativity in 25 categories. On Day 5, Tuesday, deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto attended the valedictory session as chief guest while sports and youth affairs secretary A.K. Singh was the guest of honour.
Manipur and Vidyasagar varsities bagged eight awards each in musical, literary, theatre and dance events. Ranchi University won four ' in one-act play, skit, mime and group song (Indian). But it decisively won hearts.
Among other Jharkhand cradles, Kolhan University bagged three awards (light vocal Indian, folk/tribal dance and elocution). BIT-Mesra bagged four (quizzing, debate, poster-making and mime) as did Hazaribagh-based Vinoba Bhave University (group song Indian and western, mimicry and rangoli).
But as Ranchi University vice chancellor L.N. Bhagat said, the real takeaways were not awards but exchange of ideas.
"The fest brimmed with ideas, enthusiasm and talent. As hosts, we aren't dissatisfied with ourselves, but will do better in future. On one day, our guests faced problems due to electricity (JSEB workers') strike that was beyond our control, but I can vouch for the fact that each and every stakeholder among us worked with full honesty," he said.
For visiting teams and guests, the takeaway was a changed perception of Jharkhand.
"I knew Jharkhand was a backward state. My perception completely changed after coming here. I couldn't hold back my excitement seeing the marvellous sporting facilities. Plus, I saw the magnificent central jail. I had never seen one, except in films," chuckled Ragini Singh from Banaras Hindu University.
"For me, the event was a platform to share ideas and cultures. We are going back home with a fresh perspective. The event was conducted smoothly. The spirit of positive competition was itself invigorating," said Arka Das, Gorakhpur University student.
Deputy chief minister Sudesh Mahto said Ranchi would see youth events in the near future too. "Such festivals help youngsters redefine themselves. My ministry is planning to hold a national youth fest next year. It should be on a bigger scale similar to National Games," he said.