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Exotic artwork lends spice to Surajkund Mela
It is that time of the year when people all over Harayana, especially Gurgaon flock to the largest cultural event popularly called as Surajkand mela. The 28th Surajkand International Crafts Mela was inaugurated by the Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on February 1st. Although the theme for this year's Surajkund Mela is Goan, a lot of other places are making their mark with handicrafts from their place.

Varied cultures and traditions get reflected in the arts and crafts of various countries from across the globe participating in the Surajkund International Crafts Mela at Faridabad. The Mela unveils arts and crafts not only of India but also of other nations, offering a truly enriching experience to the visitors.

Artists and craftspersons from over 15 countries have showcased some of the finest handlooms and handicrafts at the Mela. At the work huts of Sri Lanka, the Partner Nation of the Mela, there are unique handicrafts to be witnessed from traditional paintings in velvet and wood to jute based products and ceramics. Figurines of Lord Buddha, tribals, elephants and others animals are among the designs.

Vartharasan Soba, an artisan from Jaffna who has brought Palmyrah crafts, tells, “All my stuff from baskets to wallets and containers are made from the leaves of a tree and vegetable dyes. These are popular back in Sri Lanka, and at the fair too, I have got a tremendous response for my products.”

Madhubhashini Wikramasinghe from Kandy, Sri Lanka has a stall of handmade paper and using 3-D paper quilting technique, she has created wonderful dolls, keyrings, photo frames and elephants.

Sri Lanka Tea Board has set up a stall and has been doing a roaring business in the last two days and had to place more orders to meet immense public demand.

The craftsmen from Bhutan are no less as their Tanka paintings made from gold, silver and stone hang all around their stall. “It takes 3-12 years to make one Tanka painting, and interestingly these paintings get brighter in colour with time. We have created wine bottle covers in form of our traditional national dresses, singing bowls, lucky coins and a range of herbal and organic products,” shares Ten Dorji, President, Handicrafts Association, Bhutan.

There are colourful ethnic dresses from Tajikistan and traditional dolls, carved wooden wall hangings and lacy linen from Belarus lending Surajkund Mela an exotic charm.

Black stone and wooden figurines of tribal men and women, animals and containers from Buganda Kingdom, Uganda are pretty eye-catching. By side of these wares, an artist from Uganda is busy making pencil portrait of an interested visitor.

The work huts from Thailand have something that every woman would like to lap up – ceramic decoration items, incense sticks, floating candles and a host of accessories. Artisans from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal under the aegis of SAARC Business Association of Home Base Workers are displaying woven handbags, wall hangings and an assortment of products like kurtas, pillow covers and stoles.

Also the major highlight of the day was the face painting competition held for school students of Class IX-XII. Parshant & Mani Dixit of Ashoka Memorial Public School, Sarai Khwaja, Faridabad bagged first prize while Nisha Sharma & Arti Sharma of Ashoka Memorial Public School, Sarai Khwaja, Faridabad took away the second prize and Charu Bhatia & Harsha of Gita Bal Niketan School, NH-3, Faridabad stood third. Kamal Yadav & Wridha Roy of Ashoka Memorial Public School, Sarai Khwaja, Faridabad got a consolation prize. A mehndi competition will be held for students of Class IX-XII on Tuesday (4th February).

Among the eminent people to visit the Mela on Monday were senior minister of Sri Lanka Mr. Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie. Surajkund Mela Authority will celebrate Sri Lanka Day on 4th February and on this occasion, Sri Lankan artistes would present colourful performances and
Ms. Malini Fonseka known as ‘Queen of Sri Lankan cinema’ will be the special guest.

On the sunny Monday afternoon, visitors enjoyed spectacular folk dance performances being staged at the Chaupal that included Dhol Palkhi of Maharashtra, Jhulani Karma from Chhattisgarh, Jabro from Kashmir, Kalbelia from Rajasthan and Sidhi Dhamal, Mewasi & Raas Garba from Gujarat.

In the evening, bringing the Natyashala alive are the vibrant Goan folk dances namely Dhalo, Morulo, Dasarwadan, Mrach de Fotainhas, Mando, Zagor, Tarang Mel, to name a few that mark celebrations back in Goa.

Many would not know this but the Surajkund mela takes place around a reserevior built in the 10 century by a king by the name of Tomar. It is said that he worshipped the sun and hence named the reservior 'surajkund.' Since 1987 (when the first Surajkund mela was held) this has been a tradition.

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