Skip to main content

Village Festivals: Celebrating Traditions

Village Melas are the annual festivals of artist villages that work with indigenous art and craft forms. In interest of the artist communities, the melas have been significant in strengthening identity of the traditional artist communities and alongside have been operative in creating market linkages for the art.

These melas were initiated as resourceful interacting platforms for artists, visitors and the market. Apart from that the melas also staged for the implementation of social changes within the communities of the artists. Initially these festivals were started to familiarize outsiders with the artist identity and legitimize artists pride conforming the knowledge of the art and craft forms. Eventually the melas became grounds for community development as not only outsiders, but also nearby villages started to acknowledge the abilities of the artists and appreciating the art forms. 

This year the Melas were quite successful, some of them like the Madur Mela was a first time. Between September to December 2016 10 village festivals took place. I was the 7th edition for the POT Maya, Patachitra festival at Pingla and Baul Fakir Utsav, music festival at Gorbhang; whereas Mukha Mela at Kushmandi saw its 3rd edition. The 2nd edition of Dokra festivals at Bikna and Dariyapur, have been successful to propagate linkages and promote the craft. Many visitors from urban areas attended the melas and claimed to have learnt about the festivals from blogs, articles etc.

The Madur Utsav happened for the first time this year from 9th to 11th December. The weavers were quite excited to meet and interact with representatives from established organizations, as focus of the festival was FAM tour. Pertinent houses like Biswa Bangla, Fab India, Made in Bengal, Kadam, Halo Heritage and Neerosha. Apart from them, individual craft sellers, consultants and university students also explored the festival. Interactive sessions between the guests and the weavers provided a platform for discussion and feedback on the different products in terms of quality, texture, colour, designs, packing, delivery etc. Such interactions helped the traditional artists to understand modern audience, leading to the development of a new market. The festival acted as a perfect platform for opening up new avenues, partnerships and also gave the artists new ideas to work on as well as connected people on a larger scale.

The next Madur Mela is scheduled between Jan 12-13, 2017 and will take place at Digha, Purba Medinipur.


Popular posts from this blog

Countdown begins for Sur Jahan 2018

Sur Jahan (literally meaning Music World) is a unique world peace music festival of India held in Kolkata and Goa every February with the motto “Music for Peace, Music for All”. The three-day event brings together artists and musicians from home and abroad to celebrate cultural diversity through world music and facilitate exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences with the explicit aim to bridge minds and spread the culture of knowledge, understanding and tolerance. Starting its journey as Sufi Sutra in Kolkata in 2011, it was renamed in 2017 to better reflect the wide range of music genres it curates. Artists from 26 countries and 12 Indian states have participated in the festival till date. Sur Jahan simultaneously showcases creations and performances of India’s rural artists and crafts persons. In doing so, it rekindles our people’s urge to revisit and take pride in their own folk cultural heritage. The array of rich and living traditions of performing folk arts on offer, right fro…

Swayangsiddha: Rallying youths to stop human trafficking & child marriage

In an era of fast forgotten news, the headline flew past in a flicker indeed, but it did leave behind a rare trail of courage and inspiration for thousands of girls, if not more, in West Bengal! Meena, a teenager from a non-descript village in the district of South 24 Parganas, was tricked and abducted by a woman she knew through one of her classmates and neighbour. Only days before, Meena, a Class 10 student, was lucky to have attended a session of Swayangsiddha – the awareness drive underway against human trafficking organized by the district police chief at her school. Memories came rushing back and she understood that she would be sold to ‘customers’ waiting in cities like New Delhi or Mumbai, if not any other faraway land. But Meena decided not to give in and realized that keeping her cool was the topmost priority at the moment. As her abductor and her associates tried to figure out her reaction and response at the shelter where she was kept at in Baruipur, a bustling town in he…

Woodworld Wonders

It was still spring and the lukewarm weather of North Bengal came as a welcome respite for Norwegian Eivind Falk and his two British companions Robin Wood and his daughter Jojo Wood. Walking down a dry mud track of Kushmandi in the district of Dakshin Dinajpur on a March afternoon in 2017, Robin said that the temperature at his home, a few miles from Birmingham, would be around minus four degrees Celsius at that time… “and it’s very, very wet too, with a constant drizzle and wind,” said Jojo. Eivind was smiling… after all he was here before — in 2016 to be precise.

The West Bengal government’s Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Textiles (MSME&T) had developed 10 Rural Craft Hubs (RCH) with 3,000 traditional handicraft artists in nine districts of the state between 2013 and 2016. The initiative was undertaken in partnership with UNESCO and the main purpose was to conserve and revive different forms of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of West Bengal. In Februar…