Poush Mela at Santiniketan is beginning right now and we give you the reasons why you must not miss this mega event.
What started as a small Tagore family affair along with a handful of Brahmo Samaj followers at Shantiniketan, has become a truly international event today – Poush Mela is today one of the festivals that Bengal is identified by. It attracts Baul musicians, local village artists and millions of visitors from across the world every year.
Every year on the 7th day of the Bengali month of Poush (generally 23rd December), Shantiniketan Mela ground hosts ‘Poush Mela’.
So here are our pick of reasons why Shantiniketan should be your destination of choice over this last long weekend of 2015.
THE 150 YEAR OLD TRADITION
Early on the morning of day 1, prayers are organised at the historic Chatimtala to mark the acceptance of the Brahmo creed by Devendranath Tagore in 1843. The mela or fair started in 1891 to mark the foundation laying of the Brahmo Mandir which now is more famous as the Kaanch Ghor (Glass House).
BAULS – Bengal’s minstrels
The traveling minstrels of Bengal, BAULS, with their single stringed ektaras and soulful songs are an integral part of Poush Mela and the whole district of Birbhum. You shouldn’t miss high voltage performances from these folk singers when they are singing “Hridoy er maajhe‘ to ‘Cycle er duto chaka‘ – especially if you are privy to the double entendres hidden deep within the simple lyrics.
A traditional fireworks show is how Poush Mela is declared open. On the evening of 24th December the sky over Bolpur lights up & this is one of the major attractions of the Mela. Make sure you reach early & grab front rows seats
Poush Mela is arguably biggest exhibition of handicrafts from not only Bengal but from other part of India as well. Apart from the Batik print and Taant saree you will also find handloom stores manned by artisans from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. In case you are planning to decorate your house, Poush Mela can be your source of the most enthralling rural handicrafts from Bengal & beyond & that too at almost half the prices of what you pay at city stores.
If you’ve never seen the in sync & rhythmic dance of the tribal dancers of Birbhum, you haven’t really experienced the true beauty of Bengal. And Poush Mela is where you can catch these performances during the mornings of the first and second days.
When was the last time you rode a Nagordola or a Columbus Ship in a truly rural fair? These cliched but still exciting rides will take you back to your childhood. Screaming your lungs out while majestic views of the mela grounds & the Vishwabharati campus lay sprawled at your feet, on a wintry night is a priceless experience. Don’t forget to request the operator for one extra round (yeah, it works!)
DOKRA ART & JEWELLERY
This section of the mela has and will always be the bastion of our lassies. This unique style of jewellery looks perfect with both traditional and modern attires. This is what all our Bongo-lolonas flaunt when they put on their gorgeous taant or dhakai sarees.
You will find hundreds of food stalls and small vendors selling everything from gorom-ghugni , ilipi, Mathura ka Peda (yes you heard it right), langcha to Rajbhogh.
The Patishaptas alone can be the reason to board the Shantiniketan Express from Howrah & go visit Poush Mela. These Pancakes made by local villagers with rice, milk, coconut and locally produced gur (jaggery) are pure heavenly blessings for us mortals.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE A MELA…
Finally who needs a reason to go to a Mela on a chilly night in December with hundreds of food stalls, local handicrafts, rides, and what not. And in case you are a single, romantic Bengali young man or lady, know this – Poush Mela has seen many a love story begin from amidst it’s grounds. Your’s truly had also met one of the loveliest of Bong belles during a Poush Mela evening long back. Need any more reasons to go visit this magical fair?
We hope, by now you are calling your gang and planning an unforgettable trip to Shantiniketan for Poush Mela. If not, you have a year of waiting to do my friend!
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