I have vivid memories of the first day of the First Surajkund Mela of the series that was held in 1986. Driving on my bike with a friend, on the hilly and serpentine road running through a protected forest sanctuary from the Tughlakabad range to Surajkund was an event I have still not been able to forget. As the Mela had not been publicised much, there were more artisans and artists and Mela officials than the public.
Now after 22 years the scene has changed drastically. The final count of crowd that used to be a ‘few thousands’ during the fortnight now ends up in ‘many lakhs’. The stretch of the drive that used to be a country side is not suburban any more. And so have changed the artisans. Now you have a feeling whether are they really ethnic and come from the grass root level ? Cell phones which at that time were seen being used only by Captain Kirk and his deputy Spock in the episodes of Star Trek, are now a handy gadget of the artisans and craftspersons who keep talking to their contacts back in their State to send more material as they have unexpectedly sold all that they had on the first day itself . The bottom line is that the Surajkund Crafts’ Mela has come a long way !
Somewhere from the Fifth Surajkund Mela, a trend started to dedicate the mela to a Theme of one of the States of India. Since then almost all States have showcased their theme once. This year the theme of the Mela is West Bengal. And the Mela was inaugurated by Union Minister of External Affairs, Pranab Mukherjee.
A suggestion to the Surajkund Mela authorities. Set up a couple of ATMs near the venue of the Mela so that the public can draw money when they run short of cash. I have myself faced this problem a couple of times and had to visit the Mela again the next day only to find out that the article had already been sold. C’mon let’s welcome the technology side by side with the ethnicity !!