Sunday, February 13, 2011

Surajkund Crafts Mela – 2011

I had the opportunity to visit the Surajkund Crafts Mela on Feb 12, 2011. A great experience!!! One which I will cherish for a long time…

What is the Surajkund Crafts Mela?
In the backdrop of the lake, during the spring season, every year from February 1–15, a colorful traditional craft festival of India is held in the precincts of Surajkund. This fair was first started in 1987. Traditional craftsman (artists, painters, weavers and sculptors) from all parts of the country participate in this annual celebration named as the “Surajkund Crafts Mela” or "Surajkund Designer’s Village”. Designer items created by 50 best designers and craftsmen in wood, metal, bamboo, iron, glass, textiles and stone can be seen here. This Mela (fair) is visited by lovers of arts and crafts from all over the world. The fair is held with a different theme every year on Indian culture and crafts
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My Annotations
• The sheer vibrancy, energy and spirit in the air was amazing
• The number of visitors the event attracted was mind-blowing. From the billionaires in their BMW’s to the common man, From the little babies who are a few months old to the 70 year old granny, From the Germans, Americans and Brits to the Indians, From the lover of arts and crafts who come to really observe, discover and appreciate the crafts to the practical sensible home maker who comes with a neatly written shopping list and really has no real appreciation for the crafts at display……. – There was something in it for all
• The diversity in range of crafts at display was spectacular – from Kashmir to Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra to Rajasthan…... This included clothes (Kashmir shawls, Salwars, Baby clothes, Kurtas…), jewellery, accessories (from chains, ear rings, bracelets,…..), sculpture, paintings, pottery, curtains , rugs, random gift articles – In each of them there was phenomenal range in color, in price, in creative talent, in …………just about everything. And this is so integral to the spirit of India – Diversity!!!
• There is a unique quality about crafts which can bridge gaps, diminish divides and permit diversity to peacefully co-exist and flourish
• Some of the crafts which will always fascinate me – Name inscriptions on a grain of rice, Pottery, Hand-made jewellery (from bracelets to bead chains), Artistic puppets, Random creative pieces (in paintings, in styles of shawls, in designs of home-décor…)
• If you need to re-model your house / change the décor / set-up a new environment / even buy gifts for a party or wedding, this is the place to visit. With a very reasonable budget, you will be able to achieve your objective. Every rupee will be worth it!!!
• And then there is also at display, traditional folk performances of music and dance. One of the musical groups consisted of an individual who has played the “been” for 10 hours continuously; and has received the Guinness Book of World record. He had this certificate at display in front of his performance!!! And this is the first time I have seen this certificate live. Apparently, he’s also been part of some Bollywood movie (starring Aamir Khan). He had this photo also on display!!!
• Overall, the place has a very positive and friendly environment. People are ready to help you, guide you and answer your queries. And all the time I was present, someone was getting lost every 30 minutes – simply because of the crowd. Also, it’s so easy to saunter off all over the place because there are so many things which will magnetize you… So the blaring sound of a loudspeaker announcing the names of lost individuals and requests for their friends and family was a constant background music
• Most people eventually end up buying more than they planned, more than they need, more than they can physically carry with their two hands…. Simply because the deals are great, the craftsmanship is excellent, the range is spectacular and most importantly, such diversity under a single roof is hard to find

Some Basic Things which can be Improved
• Availability of a map of the venue listing the different stalls and where what is available – This is beneficial for both the first time visitor and the regular annual visitor. It helps one better utilize their time and in locating the required stalls with ease
• A more structured grouping of the stalls – either by state or by craft or any other common logical attribute which makes maneuvering easy for the common visitor. The current placement of the stalls and their displays appeared to be so random and accidental!!!
• Availability of food which is of reasonable quality – It’s so easy to lose track of time and spend at least 4 hours with no clue of how time elapsed. And before you know - All the walking, shopping, talking – will leave you really famished. A quick snack or meal which is of good quality would be a welcome respite…
• Availability of a few places to sit – All the time on your feet can sometimes take a toll. So some places in between to keep your feet up would be a boon
• Availability of trolleys – To enable the visitor to stock up his / her purchases

If you are a creative soul, you will be filled with awe and will find the whole experience inspiring..

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