Surajkund Crafts Mela was privileged once again to have Assam as its Theme State. The State earlier participated in 1998 along with other sister States of North-East India. Soaked in rich and exotic tapestry of Indian heritage, Assam has been a meeting ground for various diverse cultures. The Mela this year was dipped into a spectrum of colours from Assam. Each one was unique in its tradition, culture and exotic way of life. The décor and the ambience was especially designed and crafted to create an ethereal environment which reflected the magnificence of the State. Traditionally rich handlooms, handicrafts and some of the mouth watering cuisines of Assam formed the hallmark of this year’s Mela. The special enclosure made for the Theme State had artisans specializing in handicrafts, handlooms, metal ware and other crafts. The Mela epitomized the beauty of rural India within the gamut of suburban serenity and made it an ideal getaway for people.
The pastoral setup of the Mela with a medieval flavour was recreated to relive the culture of Assam. Miniature paintings, statues and frescoes promoting their art created an exuberant aura in the Mela. A replica of ‘Rang Ghar’ was adorned to reflect the historic grandeur of the State which dates back to 13th Century AD. In addition to this, ‘Naam Ghar’, a prayer hall was specially created by the Theme State to depict the spiritual and devotional aspect of Assamese culture. The divine structure added to the majestic essence of the Mela and also reflected the rich traditions and customs of Assam. Another highlight of 26th Surajkund Crafts Mela was the ‘Apna Ghar’ of Assam. The structure was an instant hit with the visitors who were eager to take a glimpse of the Assamese family living over there. The family reflected the every-day life of traditional Assam which involved weaving, animal husbandry, cooking etc. The structure which was made up of bamboo, cane and palm leaves was elaborate in reflecting the traditional architecture of Assam. The ‘Apna Ghar’ also had a special shelter for animals and the ‘ghoda gaadi’ was a major attraction for the kids.
Stall no. 106 and 107 of Dr. Azirur Rehman, who is PhD in Muga Silk from Assam University, displayed a live weaving of silk into different products. Sponsored by the Sericulture Department of Assam, the stall arrayed a wide variety of products like stoles, sarees and scarves. Dr. Rehman stated that the visitors here were inquisitive to know about silk weaving and he was more than happy to inform about a variety of silk being produced in Assam. He further added that the Muga Silk was produced from the lava of the caterpillars and was known for its strength and durability. The silk became more glossy and white after every wash and retained its texture throughout its lifetime. Similarly, Stall no. 154 of the Theme State enclosure displayed a wide variety of products made up from silk. An exquisite display of colourful sarees, shawls, stoles and dress materials served as a bright contrast to the rustic and rural ambience of the Mela. Stall no. 142 of Shri Hemant Adhikari exhibited a wide variety of bed covers, bed sheets, ties, kurtas, churidars and even chappals dipped in the golden colour of the silk and a distinctive use of bright colours on them.
These intricately designed fabrics had become quite popular with the visitors and one could see his stall packed with the buyers most of the time. Another facet of the Assamese handlooms was the tribal textile at Stall no. 141. A National Merit and State awardee, Smt. Chenimai Daley, arrayed an extensive range of embroidered woolen fabrics. She stated that weaving was an integral part of Assamese household and she has been doing this since her childhood days. Smt. Daley has exported her products to South Africa, Egypt and Dubai and plans to expand the list in future. She further added that the visitors of the Mela were quite receptive to her crafts and it was always encouraging to sell her products here.
Assam is known for its wide variety of handicrafts made up of bamboo, cane and metals. Many such stalls in the Mela arrayed such unique crafts. Stall no. 145 of Shri BR Mandal exhibited the art of ‘Sheetalpati’. These handicrafts were made from murta plants which grow around water bodies. These are known for their softness and glossiness. Shri Mandal has been bestowed with National Award in 2003, National Merit Award and District Award. His products ranged from purses, bags to mats and carpets. Similarly, Shri Madhav Biswas of Stall no. 147 provided with an exclusive range of bamboo products. Beautiful handicrafts, artefacts and decorative items were displayed. Nonetheless, his stall swelled with the swarm of visitors in the Mela.
Traditional dances like Satriya, Bodo, Mising, Bhortal, Deodhani, Tiwa, Rabha and Bihu & of Assam have been performed on Choupal, the open air stage. These dance numbers lit up the faces of the visitors and enlivened the atmosphere at the Mela. The pulsating wafts of their musical notes created an ambience of festivity and offered a visitor to the Mela a heady blend of craft, music and dance. The Food Court of Surajkund Crafts Mela offered a wide variety of cuisine from Assam this year. The traditional dishes were savoured by children and adults alike.
The presence of such artists and craftspersons not only added to the cultural relevance of the Surajkund Crafts Mela but also tremendously increased the footfall of visitors which, in turn, meant more sales for craftspersons. The overwhelming response has encouraged both craftspersons and performers. The Mela truly provides an opportunity for artists to perform at the international level and is fast emerging as a custodian of the dying folk art.
The results of Mehandi Competition for Junior Classes (Upto 8th standard), held on 2nd February were: first prize was won by Gita Bal Niketan Sr. Sec School and the second prize was won by Govt. Sr. Sec. School, Gaunchi. Gita Bal Niketan Sr. Sec School and Govt. School, Sarai Khawaja participated in cultural activities also.