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Surajkund Mela: Woodcraft artisans draw buyers, onlookers alike
Ornate carvings and designs can make even lifeless pieces of wood come alive. This can be gauged from the buyers and curious bystanders swarming the stalls displaying woodcraft items including idols of gods & goddesses, animal figures and replicas of famous structures at the Surajkund International Crafts Mela in Surajkund nearby Gurgaon.

The stall number 631 at the Mela showcases finely sculpted wooden replicas of the India Gate and Bahai House of Worship and scenes from Hindu epics like Mahabharata.

Person manning the stall – Mahesh Chand Sharma – sits unassumingly in his enclosure, letting the visitors do the talking as they enquire about the pieces carved by him. On little prodding, the 67-year-old master craftsman, from old Delhi, tells that he is a twice-national awardee in ivory and wood carving.

“I am also training the inmates of Tihar jail (Delhi) to making different forms by carving wood. They are also taught carpentry so that they can become self-reliant and are able to fend for themselves once they get out of the prison,” said Sharma.

Another artisan grabbing the spotlight at the Mela comes from down south at stall number 605. Winner of the state award, P. Sengottuvel from Thammam Patty in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, specialises in making wooden sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses and animals, which look striking. Even at the Mela, he is engrossed in giving finishing touches to a life-size figure of a Hindu goddess. Deftly running the chisel on the face of his upcoming creation, Sengottuvel says, “Life-size forms take almost a year to complete.”

Another stall catching the eyes of the visitors specialises in the art of inlay paintings on wooden frames – both two and three dimensional artworks. The 3D paintings are priced significantly higher than the 2D frames due to more wood used and attention to detail. Every element in 3D paintings seems alive when viewed from different angles.

The man behind these creations, Nagendra, from Karnataka at stall number. 623, remarks, “Since it requires more intricate work to make 3D paintings, these are costlier. We have to spend much longer time in making these paintings as compared to 2D illustrations.”

Nizami Bandhu regale audience at Natyashala

A renowned qawwali group, Nizami Bandhu, comprising Ustaad Chand Nizami, Shadab Faridi Nizami and Sohrab Faridi Nizami, who have a profound legacy of qawwali performed at Natyashala of Surajkund International Crafts Mela on Monday evening. They belong to legendary ‘Sikandra Gharana’ and each time they perform, they affirm their worth and talent. They are the court singers at Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and perform qawwali written by Amir Khusro.

The beats of table, the rhythm of hands and other instruments like kaanch bring the essence and hidden meaning of life through their qawwali and kalams. They sing works of some great poets and specially Amir Khusro’s ghazals, which have unmatchable depth in words and in meaning.

Nizami Bandhu have performed at almost all prestigious platforms and cultural programmes. Qawwali has been lost in alloy of other styles but their attempts are keeping it live and remind us of what our culture and tradition is.

Watch history come alive with 1857 ki Kahani-Haryana ki Zubaani, a play directed by G.S. Channi and presented by Department of Cultural Affairs, Haryana at Natyashala on 12th February from 6 pm onwards.

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Vibhav Kant Upadhyay
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