Every year during the first fortnight of February, Surajkund in Faridabad - Haryana, transforms into a colourful craft and cultural hub for national and international forms of handicrafts.
The Surajkund International Crafts Mela offers an exquisite platform for craftsmen from India and abroad to showcase their handicrafts and promote it on a significant scale. The entire assemblage is set around the ancient reservoir ‘Surajkund’, in an area sprawling over 40 acres. Every year the Mela is organised on a theme and one of the states of India is chosen the ‘theme state’ and given a chance to exhibit their indigenous arts. For the 29th Surajkund International Crafts Mela 2015, the ‘Theme State’ was Chhattisgarh, which showcased its tribal and cultural heritage in the form of folk dance performances like Panthi, Rawat nacha Pandwani, Chaitra, Kaksar and Saila.
Handicrafts exhibited in the Surajkund Mela aesthetically feature the rich sculpting, casting, carving , moulding and painting arts, aboriginal to India. It celebrates the variety of Indian craft from various corners of the country. The Theme state for this year, Chhattisgarh exhibited wrought iron art pieces called Dhokra and intricate brass art pieces from Bastar. Fine clay statues and terracotta chimes by the artisans from Bhuvneshwar, hand crafted traditional wooden furnishing from Haryana and hand painted ostrich eggs from Lebanon were the other handicraft highlights of the fair.
Vibrancy of the event is not restricted only with the showcasing of handicrafts; rather it is a culturally rich package which includes craft, entertaining arts and rustic delicacies from all around the world and parts of India. The Mela has become an art connoisseurs’ paradise and this year saw the participation of 18 countries in various art exhibitions and events. Lebanon, the ’partner nation’ of this year’s Mela exhibited its traditional crafts and indigenous arts throughout the course of 14 days.
Surajkund International Crafts Mela played a role in taking up social causes through performances. Many skits and dances were performed with social themes like ‘Saving the Girl Child’. Amid folk dances and musicals the open air theatre ‘Natyashala’ witnessed a ‘Kavi Sammelan ‘steered by famous comedian Surinder Sharma. Qawwali singers like Razia Bano and Abdul Hamid Sabri mesmerized audience with the rare genre of qawwali singing.
Surajkund promises something for everyone and it has kept its promise this year to the lovers of exotic delicacies. An envoy of chefs specialised in Mediterranean cuisines hailed to the fair with their gourmet dishes. Street food of Mumbai, lip smacking authentic Chinese and Punjabi dishes loaded with generous dollops of spices provided ample of gastronomes options to the foodies.
Suraj Kund Mela was elevated to an international stature in 2013 and since then it has become an immensely popular event for the patrons of handicrafts, globally. Though the mela is covering many aspects of handicrafts the traditional fabric arts like Chikankari, Phulkari and Zardosi are still missing from the carnival. With hopes to see more involvement of Indian fabric crafts and a wider attention to it, we will wait for the 30th Surajkund Mela to awe-inspire us next year.