Bangalore: About 5,000 youngsters from all states and Union Territories are expected to participate in the 17th National Youth Festival commencing in the coastal Karnataka city of Mangalore on Thursday.

Young delegates from SAARC countries would also participate in the festival with the theme 'Celebrating Diversity in Unity', thereby giving it a truly "diversified" character.

During the five-day festival, there would be competitive events in 16 individual items and two group items, an official release said.

In addition to this, non-competitive events – Yuva Kriti, Food Festival, Young Artists' Camp and Adventure Park -- would be organised by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan. The Sangathan works under the aegis of Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

The National Service Scheme (NSS) would organise a Youth Convention and lecture series 'Suvichaar'.

The festival would be inaugurated by Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda at Mangala Stadium. Union Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily would be the Chief Guest while Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Ajay Maken and Veerendra Heggade, "Dharmadhikari", Dharmasthala, would be the guests of honour.

Maken would give away the National Youth Awards to 28 individuals and two organisations at the inaugural function. This is the first time that the Festival is being organised in Karnataka.

Since its inception in 1995, the National Youth Festival is organised every year from January 12 to 16 in different states to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.