Surajkund fair marks silver jubilee, begins Tuesday

January 31st, 2011 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Jan 31 (IANS) The silver jubilee edition of the globally acclaimed Surajkund Crafts Mela (fair) begins at Surajkund in Haryana’s Faridabad district Tuesday, officials said.The 25th edition of the 15-day event will feature Andhra Pradesh as the theme state for the third time, while Uzbekistan will be donning the mantle of partner country.

Andhra Pradesh was the theme state in 1997 and 2007 as well.

The fair will be inaugurated by union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay.

Officials of Haryana Tourism said here Monday that one unique feature of this year’s fair will be the venue, which has been made eco- and disabled-friendly.

“The culture and customs of Uzbekistan would mingle with Indian heritage at the Mela,” Haryana’s Tourism Minister O.P. Jain said.

Often described as ‘mini-India’, the eagerly awaited fair comes alive in vivid colours of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage in the month of February every year.

“The fortnight-long jamboree serves people with exquisite skills and talents, not only from different parts of India, but also from countries like Uzbekistan, Thailand and the neighbouring SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations as a platform to showcase and hawk their wares,” an official said.

All SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and host India - will be participating in the fair.

The crafts on display would include woven silk and cotton blended sarees, block printed fabrics, stuffed leather toys, floor coverings, folk paintings, bamboo, cane, jute, woodcraft, stone craft, iron-craft, metal-craft, terra-cotta, paper mache, zari work (gold thread embroidery), ornaments, dolls and many more hand-crafted products.

Making a modest beginning in 1981, the Surajkund crafts fair has become a popular event over the years. International acknowledgement has come to the event with scores of foreigners coming to see the best of traditional Indian craftsmen display their skills and art.

Surajkund (the pond of sun god) owes its name to an ancient amphitheatre sun pool, dating to the 10th century located there. It was built by king Suraj Pal, a follower of the sun god. It is located in the Aravalli mountain range.

Detailing new features of the fair, Jain said that the venue had been expanded by seven acres, and will now be spread over 30 acres.

“The number of work huts has been increased from 394 to 525 and the parking area extended to cover seven more acres. One more chaupal (open air stage) for cultural performances has been added to decongest the old chaupal. The pathways have been cemented and steps converted into ramps to make them disabled-friendly,” the minister added.

Bio-toilets have been added to make the venue environment-friendly. The Haryana Gate, a replica of the entrance to Pinjore Garden, has been constructed to provide a glimpse of the Mughal garden to visitors.

“Besides, highly sophisticated CCTV cameras have been installed for security and e-surveillance. Special fire safety measures had been taken by laying a new water pipeline with 12 new fire hydrant posts, more fire banks and fire vehicles,” Jain added.

Organised with the joint effort of central and Haryana government agencies, visitors to the fair this year are expected to cross last year’s mark of over 745,000.

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