Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surajkund Mela

This past week Lesa and I went to the Surajkund Mela. Mela is essentially the Hindi word for "craft fair." Typically these are held around the Fall-Winter holiday season - before Diwali, Eid and Christmas.
In the spring (February 1 - 15), by far the biggest and most famous Mela is, Surajkund. It's held just across the border of south Deli in the state of Haryana. This fair highlights handicrafts, clothing and foods from all over India. Regional SAARC nations including Nepal, Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Sri Lanka also participate. It's the third year we've been living in India during February so Lesa and I thought we'd better go see what all the fuss was about....
The setting is beneath trees and is spread out across some rolling hillsides. There are pretty sand-stone walkways and over 400 booths. This year represented the fair's 25th year, so the mela has become very well organized. It reminded us of a more elaborate version of "Dilli Haat," which is the permanent, government-sponsored cultural/handicrafts fair here in central New Delhi.
The kids weren't with us so we enjoyed talking more time to explore the stalls and did a lot of "people watching."
We met a talentaed artist from Sri Lanka (purchased one of his oil paintings), and watched some of the many colorful dancers and musicians. One troop of male dancers (not uncommon in India) was dressed up as various characters from Indian mythology.
Then we ate lunch in a broad, shaded (and a little dusty) food court...
The food was freshly prepared right in front of us. If we wanted we could have sampled tastes from all over India.
The whole experience was really not unlike going to a County Fair back home. The mela included an amusement area with rides (albeit a little scary) and an alley with game booths. Throughout the venue there were demonstrations of looms, spinning wheels, basket making, painting and pottery. Pony and camel rides for kids. Everything was there except the 4H livestock competitions.
Glad we took the time out to venture back into Haryana and enjoy Surajkund for an afternoon!

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