A profuse blend of art and craft, the 24th Surajkund Crafts Mela was a unique platform to display various talents from India and abroad. It was a stage which accommodated not only newcomers but also people who have achieved mastery in their respective arts. Over 200 National and State awardees from various different states of our country have exhibited their work in the Mela. It was the privilege of the Mela to have such artists in its premises. On the other hand, most of these artisans felt that the Mela has given them an international platform to display their talent and the potpourri of people which visited here was unmatchable to any other fair in the country.
The Mela was also fast becoming a custodian of various dying arts and crafts of our country. It not only provided them with a podium to exhibit but also a global market to sell their products. This exposure was instrumental in increasing their clientele throughout the year and thus helping them to make their ends meet. It was a conscious effort of the Surajkund Crafts Mela Authority every year to bring about those arts and crafts which were gradually diminishing due to lack of financial support. It helped in preserving their art and thereby giving them a chance to carry its legacy forward.
Phad Paintings from Rajasthan was one such art which was losing its ground. It was shocking to know that there were only 12 people all over the world who knew the intricacies of this art. One such National merit Award winner, Prakash Joshi was present amidst the Mela. His hut number 238 A in the theme state Rajasthan enclosure was quite popular among the visitors. He explained that Phad paintings were done on hand woven cloth. The paint used on these paintings was made from gum, powdered earthen colours, water and indigo. They also kept a grinding stone on which the colours were grounded with gum and water. Phad paintings were on divine personalities and some of the paintings were even 35 feet long. These paintings depicted folk stories and rich literature of our country.
He felt that the Mela had provided him an opportunity to display this dying art. He also expressed that it was of utmost importance to promote such arts at a national level like this so as to carry its tradition forward. He said that though it was his first time in the Mela, he would be more than happy to come again next year and display his work. He added that the response of the visitors had encouraged him to pursue this art further and to give it the desired exposure.
Work hut 356 of the Mela displayed the work of S. R. A. Quadri who made an exclusive use of zinc and silver to make decorative items and jewellery. He elucidated that the Sultans of 4th to 17th Century India were great patrons of the art of Bidri. However, this art was fading away these days. The basic material of Bidri ware was an alloy of zinc and copper upon which artistic designs in pure silver are inlaid. He expressed that the Mela had been instrumental in promoting this art. He said that not only did his art get the desired exposure but the visitors were keen enough to know the art of Bidri as well. This year was his third time in the Mela and he would love to make new products from his craft and sell them here next year.
Tulsi Devi of work hut number 345 had a unique art of making the dolls. A National award winner, she has been pursuing this for the last 30 years. She made an exclusive use of clay, wire and paper to make some of the most intricately designed dolls. She had received great response from the visitors and her work was quite popular among young girls. The platform of Mela had already proved to be fruitful to her and she would like to come again and exhibit her craft in the coming years.
The dying art of palm leave engraving had found a saving grace in the Surajkund Crafts Mela this year. Saroj Kumar Maohanty explained that his art requires extreme proficiency to craft one product. It took him 10 years to learn this art and grieved that it was fading away gradually. He was thankful to the Mela Authorities for providing him space to display his craft. He had generated immense response from the visitors and expressed that the true art lovers gave no second thoughts in buying his product.
Hand Painting done on traditional Tasar silk at work hut 112 was extremely popular among the visitors. Prakash Kumar Meher from Orissa boasted that a painting priced at Rs 25,000 was already sold. A National award winner himself, he added that this worked as a confidence booster for him.
Shri O P Jain, Minister of Tourism, Haryana appreciated the work of these craftspersons and said that no stone would be left unturned to provide best of the opportunities to these artisans to display their craft. He expressed that the Mela Authorities were more than happy to promote such dying arts and crafts and they had walked an extra mile so as to gather these artisans on this common podium. He further expressed that more work huts would be built in the Mela grounds for the next year and he would direct the Surajkund Crafts Mela Authority and Haryana Tourism to accommodate as many number of craftspersons as it can so that this platform is promoted in aggressive way in future. This would further help in uplifting the status of the craftspersons coming from far flung areas.
The bright and colourful Rangoli done up by students of various schools and colleges for the Rangoli competition was judged today. Faridabad Convent School from Faridabad fetched the first prize. Gita Bal Niketan Senior Secondary School from Faridabad and Manav Mangal Public School from New Delhi bagged the second and the third prize, respectively.