Shalini S Sharma
EVERY year for the past 36 years, for 20 days in the month of February, the arid and muddy 40 acre expanse on the outskirts of Delhi, in neighbouring Haryana state’s Surajkund distrct, comes alive with a riot of colours, songs, dance, music and masti. The magic started being spun by Haryana Tourism in 1987 in the form of Surajkund Crafts Mela which attained international status in 2013 and is today the world’s biggest handicraft mela which sees a footfall of about a million visitors every year.
The mela has everything right going for it. This includes proximity to the national Capital – it is about 25 km away from central Delhi and is equidistant from Gurugram, Faridabad and Badarpur, which makes it the perfect getaway for families on weekends and the go-to place for lakhs of students from higher education institutes in three states.
Hordes of youngsters gyrating to the beats of dhol and nagada at the festival at any given point of time bear testimony to its popularity and appeal among the masses.
Tanzania partner country
This year the 37th edition of Surajkund Mela is being held with Tanzania as a partner country. Theme state is Gujarat while Cultural Partner of the Mela is North Eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation.
At least 20 countries and all states of India are participating in the mela with more than 300 craftspersons displaying their wares of leather, cotton, zari, zardozi, phulkari, kashidakari, block printing, wood craft, woollen hats, sleepers, carpets, dokra jewellery, brass figurines, ceramic ware, blue pottery and much more.
Food, music, culture
Traditional food is one of the major attractions of the Mela with everything from millet delicacies to jaleba and kulhad-wali chai selling like hot cakes. Since the vision of the Mela is to promote India’s folk traditions and cultural heritage, an essential component of its programming are musical evenings which feature popular singers and folk artists.
This year among the musicians who are going to perform at Surajkund Mela are Daler Mehendi, Kailash Kher, Maithili Thakur and the choir from Shillong, among others.