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.