TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MEERA AHUJA
The visit to the recently-concluded Ninth National Crafts Mela held at Kalagram in the City Beautiful here from November 2 to 12 was disappointing.
The theme of the mela this time was ‘Dadra and Nagar Haveli‘, so the expectation was quite high.
Kalagram was aesthetically decorated with wall paintings by different artists and the stalls created with bamboo sticks, Hessian cloth and thatch.
There was no problem in parking the car and the parking charges were nominal at Rs 20/- but it would have been excellent if the parking attendant had kept a dustbin for disposing of the used tickets. The entry tickets were easy to buy despite the heavy rush and the entry was well organised. The venue was clean and water sprinkled to keep the dust down.
The performances by dance groups were enjoyable but unlike previous years, there were no craftsmen to interact. Instead of a crafts fair, it was an ordinary shopping bazaar.
In the previous years (except last year), I was visiting the fair several times – to go around the complex absorbing the atmosphere, talking to the artists, learning about their art, watching them create wonderful ‘kalakritis’, learning about their lives and their problems and then buying artworks which were not easily available.
However, there were no artisans demonstrating their craft. There was an exhibition of tools, kitchen and other household equipment used in Punjab earlier. Several stalls had stocked almost similar items. Most of these items are easily available in the market. It was difficult to identify the actual craftsmen from the ‘shopkeepers’.
The jewellery stalls and those selling clothes were the ones with largest crowds. People were looking at the items on display, enjoying the pleasant weather while munching on the roasted rice pappads.
The usual food stalls were set up in a separate enclosure as in the previous years. Though the seating arrangement was insufficient, the food was good.
Camel rides, swings and other joyrides were also available.