The Surajkund International Crafts Mela (English: Fair) originated in 1987 and with each passing year it grows into more prosperity. Held in the National Caption Region of India, it is a colourful, traditional Craft Festival bringing light to the enormous talent of Artisans and Craftsmen in India. It showcases the rich culture of tribal craftsmen; with folk dancers, traditional paintings, tribal handmade jewellery and exquisite figurines. This brainchild of the Haryana Government has been able to garner many praises and tourists from all over the world.Each year the fair selects one state as its theme state giving local people a platform for their Art, handicrafts and culture. It’s a wonderful way to encourage and promote the local preservers of traditional Indian-ism. The theme state of 2019 was Maharashtra, a state situated in the South-west region of India.Maharashtra is known for their rich crafts and traditional paintings. There was a large number of Gond Paintings at the fair, which is a form of tribal art practiced by one of the largest tribes in India, the Gondi tribe. Gond paintings are a reflection of man’s close connection with nature. A rich illustration of bright, varied colours made of charcoal, leaves, and even cow dung, using the art of perfection and on line work to convey messages. They draw inspiration from the elements of nature and often send out social messages for the cause of Nature. Gond paintings also take inspiration from myths and legends of India or alternatively, they may also showcase images from the daily lives of the tribe.The nation of India reminds everyone of its finesse with bright textiles, colourful crafts, ethnic cuisines, rich culture and heritage. If you’re in this annual fair, you can’t miss this glorious affair and aesthetic pleasure that will make you feel India in all of your roots and origins.The most beautiful trait about these fairs is the various stories that each and every material and nature carries. The artifacts made from clay will definitely make you feel like a connoisseurs of Art and crafts. A young lad of about 18 years old, along with his father, had a stall of paintings that depicted tales of Indian mythology and culture of life, on handmade sheets, using various colours, pens and threads. A simple painting takes about an average 1-2 days whereas the ones made of colourful threads takes almost 4-5 days on average. These artists come from faraway places to display their heritage and culture with their finest demonstrations of unusual products to capture your hearts.Even with machine replacements these local artists endure painstaking efforts and continue to work in their traditional methods to stay true to their authenticity and produce masterpieces.The most captivating stories of production of traditional wear were that of banana silk. Yes! You read it correctly. One is able to wear its favourite traditional silk saris and kurtis that are spun not of a silkworm thread, but from the banana plant. It is a sustainable fabric and a need in this age of sustainable fashion. A stall that was given by a group of weavers based out of the state of Chhattisgarh, had lined their best dupattas, saris made out of this silk. The owner of the stall enlightened on enquiring further about this fabric that the Banana Silk is made from the pseudo-stem of the Banana Tree. The fibre is extracted from the stem then woven, dyed and expertly tailored into beloved garment. The fabric has a shiny lustre, is environmental friendly and durable.
Surajkund Mela is a unique festival and you could consider yourself lucky if you get to witness it and dance to the tunes of these colourful, enthralling cultures.
Text by Tejashee Kashyap @tejashee_kashyap