Surajkund International Crafts Mela

  • Barnali Dutta / FG
  • India
  • Feb 06, 2015

Photo: Prakhar Pandey

Artists and artisans from across the world are here. They are all excited about the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela, the signature annual cultural event of Haryana/NCR. A painter from Italy has come for the first time, with a lady friend. “India is a big market, and I hope the people here will like my paintings,” he says. His friend is here to participate in the cultural programme, which is one of the interesting events associated with the Mela. The painter adds, "Though communication is not easy, we fortunately have an interpreter. We simply love Indian culture, its diversity, the languages and, of course, the wonderful clothes and the great food!" 18 countries are participating in this Mela, with Chhattisgarh being the Theme State. A homegrown craftsman from Uttar Pradesh gushes with excitement: “This is my first time at Surajkund“. He is mesmerised by the ambience, but makes no bones about his desire. “I hope that I can make good money here. The government has been kind enough to provide us with accommodation, though we need to arrange for food ourselves." The Chhattisgarh Tourism Public Relations Officer (PRO), Prajakta, is beaming with happiness.  "It is after 10 years that Chhattisgarh has been selected. It is a big moment for us and we are very excited. We are doing everything possible to make this event successful and memorable for all," she says. Shri Santosh Mishra, MD, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, adds, “The Mela brings together different cultures and nationalities, and of course the States of India. We are actively promoting Chhattisgarh as a global tourist destination. By participating in this unique global exhibition, we believe that Chhattisgarh’s art, craft and culture would receive a tremendous boost. Through our outreach at Surajkund we wish to share a glimpse of the beauty that Chhattisgarh is adorned with.” The participants and visitors are getting a feel of its tribal heritage and culture, which is still well preserved in areas like Bastar. The artistes from Chhattisgarh will be putting up a vibrant show, including multiple folk dances. Lebanon, the 'Partner Nation' of the Mela this year, has impressed visitors with its ancient heritage of a stylish creation of various crafts. The crafts persons, cultural troupes and master chefs from the Mediterranean nation are exhibiting ample evidence of their skills and are enthralling the visitors. Many new initiatives have been undertaken at this year's event. A free mobile application, 'Surajkund Mela', has also been launched, for Smartphone and online ticketing. Entry tickets are also available at 22 Delhi Metro stations. Also on display are arts, crafts and abundant cultural talent from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Thailand, Uganda and Syria. The crowds are already swelling, and include many regulars. Arun Dutta, from Faridabad, says that the Surajkund Mela clearly surpasses Dilli Haat. "You just cannot compare the two. Haryana Tourism’s organisation of the Surajkund Mela is phenomenal. This time the number of participants has also increased," he says. The global cuisines food court is also a major attraction. The owner of one such stall is very upbeat about his business prospects. "Though we have paid a princely sum to grab a place here, we are not worried. We should be able to hopefully earn a decent amount."  

The popularity of the Surajkund Mela continues to grow. What started out as an exhibition to promote the rich craftsmanship of North India, has now transformed itself into a global art, craft and cultural extravaganza. The Mela offers a huge opportunity for the export of Indian craft to markets across the world. A Haryana State official associated with the management of the mega event says, "It's a rare opportunity for rural artistes and artisans, as they are able to get an exposure to international clients and witness firsthand the still strong demand for Indian art and craft.” From 1.75 lakh visitors in 1989, the number has steadily increased, and there were 7.54 lakhs in 2010. The record single day footfall is 1.42 lakhs (2013), "This year we are hoping to surpass the record, and initial indications - such as airline and hotel bookings and the general rush of international visitors to Delhi at the back of President Obama’s visit - are very encouraging," says a Haryana State official. The Administration has ensured efficient transport facilities, availability of safe drinking water, clean public conveniences and tight security arrangements. The Mela offers a truly picturesque ambience of Indian culture – at its most colourful and vibrant. Don’t miss it.


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