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34th Surajkund International Crafts Mela

The fair is not just restricted to sale of artifacts or to introduce one to the real artists and craftsmen here one can see cultures through art.

Dilip Guha | New Delhi |

Delhi NCR’s iconic Surajkund International craft Mela is back with its 34th edition. This art and craft fair is a confluence of vivid art, Music and Culture from across the world. The fair is not just restricted to sale of artifacts or to introduce one to the real artists and craftsmen here one can see cultures through art. Visitor can also catch live folk performances here and meet people from all around the world.

Jointly hosted by the Surajkund Mela Authority and Haryana Tourism in collaboration with the Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture, External Affairs and Government of Haryana, this festival has come to occupy a place of pride and prominence on the international tourism calendar for its display of crafts, culture and cuisine of India in aesthetically created ambience.

The International craft festival has many offbeat attractions for tourists of every age. It provides a platform for artists across the globe to showcase their culture and talent annually.

“Surajkund” a, the little destination hidden in Faridabad Haryana, saw no tourism until it began hosting the ‘Surajkund Craft Mela’in 1987. It showcased richness and diversity of the handicrafts and cultural heritage of India, has attained international stature in 2013. More than 30 countries from Europe, Africa and Asia are participating in the Mela this year with artists and craftsmen from England for the first time. Uzbekistan, the Partner Nation of the Mela. Over 100 crafts persons and many cultural troupes have come to participate in the mela and will bring the true color of Uzbekistan to the people of India.

Each year the organizing committee picks a theme state. The motive behind this step is to accentuate India’s diverse cultural history and make it more prominent among other nations. The ‘Theme State’ for this year mela is Himachal Pradesh. One can get the specific ambience of the state-the characteristic colors, materials, architecture, furniture and decorations of Hiamchal. The theme dictates the look of the entrance, the fair grounds, and the setting. A replica of ‘Bhima Kali Temple’, ‘Ram Bagh’ and the already existing ‘Maheshwar Devta Temple’, is the main attraction of this year’s Mela. State is focusing on tourism, apart from showcasing its art, culture and heritage in the mela. An information centre has also been set up by the Tourism Department to provide information to the tourists and to showcase unexplored tourist destinations. Hundreds of artistes from Himachal Pradesh are performing different folk arts and dances.

While inaugurating the mela The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind on February 1, 2020, the said Surajkund Mela provides ordinary craftsmen and artisan’s real recognition and value for their skills. It also provides them an excellent opportunity to display and sell their products directly to customers. The Surajkund Mela has saved India’s various remarkable craft traditions from extinction. For many craftsmen, artisans and weavers, this fair is major source of their annual income.

Handloom and handicraft lover gets feast their eyes on a wide range of artifacts made by rural artisans from across the country. Exhibition aims to give rural artisans a first-hand experience of the urban market, where they also get feedback from customers. Stalls are put up by artisans who are beneficiaries of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), self help groups and NGO’s

Two development professionals Gautami Srivastava and Sidhharth Lakhanpal who hails from Shimla, have taken up self-funded social enterprise with task of giving wider market to the natural food products and craft items, which are made in abundance by hill villagers and having social angle in mind, they displayed 11 of such natural products including famous Himalayan Yew Tea from Himachal Pradesh, packaged under the brand ‘Buraansh’ (Rhododendron flower) at the fair. Sidhharth said “These exhibitions are helpful because we can sell what we make, without relying on the middleman. This helps me meet the customers, get their views and improvise my work.”

This year, visitors can relish mouth-watering cuisines with scrumptious ethnic dishes including authentic flavours of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, sumptuous Mughlai, subtle aromas of the South and oriental flavours of Chinese along with Indian street food and other state specialities at the Food Court. Also, state-owned Institutes of Hotel Management of Faridabad and Panipat would dish out various ethnic delicacies.

To enliven the visitors’ mood, scintillating performances are presented by international folk artistes during day. During the Mela fortnight one can enjoy resonating Ghazals, dance performances, soulful sufi performances, melodious Bollywood numbers by various artists, besides adrenaline-rushing dance & song shows of Himachal Pradesh, Partner Nation and other international artists at cultural shows in the evening

This exhibition is also unique from other exhibition as it not only displays the richness of art and culture but gives glimpse of government’s social welfare missions.

Human Kind Foundation, a Faridabad base NGO, working on waste management displays terracotta pots meant for home composting of household wastes. They are showcasing composting eco friendly products at Surajkund Craft Mela for last five years.

Ms Monica Sharma, President of foundation told The Statesman “Our mission is waste management, which has become a very big problem all over world and we believes in charity begins from home. Keeping in mind Govt of India’s Swachha Bharat Mission, we are encouraging home composting in terracotta pots designed by us. We believe using these pots, it serves twin purpose, can help our under privileged potters with good earning along with composting. We are trying to educate visitors that not to hide the daily waste but make it visible by converting waste into manure for gardening.  We are also promoting recycling n up-cycling of waste and its management.

It is evoking a good response from prospective buyers however, more change in mindset and awareness is required, she is hopeful while talking about Swachha Bharat Mission.  “Change will come if govt makes it mandatory for home and community composting unlike Kerela’ s Allpuenza by giving incentives or some other benefits” she added.