Malifest has been conducted since the establishment of Mali Foundation in 1995. In 2008 Mali Foundation instituted the Mali Karnasapatham Award to commemorate Mali’s beloved wife Malathy Nair who attained the Lotus Feet in 2007. One of Mali’s most brilliant works, ‘Karnasapatham,’ is staged during this event.
The play focuses on Karna’s dilemma on the eve of the Mahabharatha War when he knows he is actually the eldest of Kunti’s sons while his commitment lay with Duryodhana, the eldest of the Kauravas. The play is unique for its lessons on leadership and friendship as well as for its expressions of pathos and poignancy. The play, with the simplicity of its lyrics and beauty of its music, has bridged the gap between the classical art and the layman. The success and impact of the play has stood the test of time with the play having been staged close to 20,000 times both in India and abroad.
Every year, during Malifest, Mali Foundation recognizes the contributions of an outstanding artist in the field of Kathakali with an award. The award is known as The Mali Karnasapatham Award and it comprises a cash prize of Rs. 10,001/- (Rupees Ten thousand and One only), a citation and a memento. The award is determined in association with Tripunitura Kathakali Kendram.