“Good morning! I am here. I hope you are ready for Surajkund?”. Within 5 minutes of sending the message, I saw Maureen and Maggie step out of their rooms with a big smile across their faces. Their “Good morning” was full of excitement as they knew they were about to experience a cultural extravaganza within a short span of time.

Maggie and Maureen are excited to head out for the Surajkund Mela

Maggie and Maureen are excited to head out for the Surajkund Mela

Maureen and Maggie are from UK and are spending a relaxed life after their retirement. They are in India to attend a dear friend, Asad’s wedding and are putting up in a Bed and Breakfast room that was arranged by BnBNation. They are looking for experiences that they can cherish for a long time and want their loved one’s back in UK to know! Asad is a dear friend of theirs and has been staying in UK for about 5 years and plans to bring his wife back to UK after marriage.

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Maureen, Maggie and I started out for the mela and along the way the ladies started expressed how they admired the Indian values and marriage customs. They also expressed how excited they were to witness Asad’s wedding and what they plan to do for the newly married couple when the couple comes back to London in March! They enquired about the welfare schemes for the poor in India and how the state of affairs can be handled properly by the administration. I quenched their thirst for knowledge by informing them about the schemes such as Housing for All, Skill India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Hunar se rozgar, and other relevant schemes. They were happy to know the initiatives and thought that India is moving forward in the right direction! They sounded positive about the Demonetization drive to root out black money and thought that the pain caused to the people would reap rich benefits to the Indian economy in the future.

A huge statue is a symbol of the Surajkund mela

Once we reached the fair, Maggie said to Maureen “Wow! Look at that! It’s so colorful!” She was referring to a mask-wall put up by Chhatisgarh pavilion. Roaming around in the Chaupal where the cultural performances were taking place, Maureen exclaimed “The dresses of the performers are beautiful, aren’t they?? Why aren’t people back home in UK as colorful as them? Why do they always prefer black and white over other colors? I fail to understand! I love the colors here! Look at the vibrancy of the place!”

Surajkund Mela was enjoyable for Maggie and Maureen

Surajkund Mela was enjoyable for Maggie and Maureen

Both the ladies roamed around the mela and noticed the Central ministry empaneled stalls. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment empaneled stalls had elegant paintings and art products on display. Similarly, Ministry of Textiles empaneled stalls wore an exquisite look with a colorful display of stoles, shawls, carpets etc. Then we moved towards the Open Air theatre where both the ladies stopped and enjoyed the folk dance performed by Rajasthani girls on the Rajasthan Tourism song ‘Padhaaro Mhaare desh’. Later, they saw the dance by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism board which was followed by the dance by Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and other states.

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In another part of the mela they checked out stalls set up by other countries like Tajikistan, Kazakhastan, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt, Sri Lanka etc. They were delighted to see global culture ensembled in one place!

Colors on display at the Surajkund Mela

Next, they saw the section where Haryana State Legal Services Authority had setup stall where all the socially relevant messages were displayed. They were standees and displays for the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign which impressed them the most. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao was launched pan India, on 22nd January 2015 in Panipat, Haryana to address the declining sex ratio of India by celebrating the birth of a girl child, based on the observation that child sex ratio in India has decreased to 918 in 2011 from 976 in 1961. There were other initiatives as well in the form of drawings and paintings. The initiative against the ‘Acid attack’ surprised and appalled them in equal measure. They couldn’t fathom how could anyone throw acid at a girl. However, on knowing that such instances have reduced drastically after a few acid-attack incidents were highlighted by the media and prompt action was taken against the perpetrators by the governments, they felt relieved! Both were glad to know about the initiatives and were appreciative of the social message sent by Haryana States Legal Services Authority through the stall.

Classical dance performance during the Surajkund mela

Classical dance performance during the Surajkund mela

By the time, we exited the mela, they had bought a few bags and a pair of colorful slippers from the Surajkund mela for themselves and for their near and dear ones’ back home. But what they didn’t pay for was the smile and the contentment on their faces. They felt as if in a matter of a few hours, they had experienced the entire cultural heritage and traditions of India and a few other countries!

About the Surajkund Mela:

This year’s Surajkund Mela is the 31st edition of Surajkund mela. It is organized by the Surajkund Mela Authority & Haryana Tourism in collaboration with Union Ministries of Tourism, Textiles, Culture and External Affairs. For the 31thSurajkund International Crafts Mela-2017, the state of Jharkhand has been chosen to be the Theme State. At least 20 countries & all the states of India are participating in the Mela. Countries like Kazakhastan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Tajikistan, Belarus etc have set up their stalls to display their cultural heritage and their unique products.

The most important feature of the mela is the cultural performances of renowned national and international folk artists and cultural groups at both the Chaupals and the open-air theatres, located in the Mela premises. Maggie and Maureen were delighted to see the colorful costumes of the dancers from Chhatisgarh, Jammu Kashmir, tribal groups of India.

The Mela is indeed a custodian of the heritage crafts involving the use of traditional skills that are fading away due to cheap machine-made imitations, and a special section is earmarked for showcasing of these heritage crafts.

School Children turned out in big numbers at the Surajkund mela

The multi-cuisine Food Court provides ethnic cuisines from all over the world, which are immensely popular with visitors. There are designated places for amusement, adventure sports and joy rides to make it a must visit event for the young. In 2013, the fair was upgraded to an international level and in 2015, a record number of 20 countries participated in the Mela and Lebanon was the Partner Nation and Chhattisgarh, the Theme State.

The mela has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds and the upcoming editions are expected to be bigger and better!

 

Source:

http://www.haryanatourism.gov.in

https://www.facebook.com/SurajkundCraftsMela/

**This blog had been published earlier (Feb 2017) but due to server issues, the content was wiped out, so it is being published again


Ambuj Saxena

Ambuj Saxena is passionate about all things digital! He likes to travel and explore new culture and places. He likes writing blogs and likes chasing people to make them read the blogs too! Of late, he has been concentrating on providing a social media strategy for a few travel and hospitality companies. His co-authored book, 'Indian BnBs: An emerging disruptor in the Hospitality sector' has received enormous response and has been adopted as a course book in Tourism and Hospitality courses in prominent universities of India such as Jammu University, Jamia Millia Islamia university and Ambedkar university. A 2013 Brand Management graduate from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), he has successfully executed various online and offline marketing campaigns for companies operating in Automobile, Fashion and Lifestyle, Travel and Tourism sectors as well as Government departments. He has provided consultancy to Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) Bus services in Delhi and helped increase its ridership. He participated twice in HULT Competition, an International Annual Case study contest, in Dubai to solve an issue plaguing the society through social entrepreneurship. Earlier, as a Computer Engineer graduate, he had spent valuable time working in TCS to hone his technical skills. He has co-founded BnBNation as he believes that Tourism and Hospitality is as much online as it is offline, and he can add value to both.

24 Comments

neha · July 18, 2018 at 3:26 am

What a great cultural experience they must have had at the surajkund mela. I can see why they were so excited to see it. And with a bnb host I am sure they will be able to get into the depth of the cultural details which otherwise is difficult to get.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:05 am

    Very well said Neha! Maureen and Maggie did have an immersive cultural experience indeed!

Johna · July 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Wow! This looks so great. It’s actually my first time hearing about Surajkund Mela! Learned a loy from reading your post, maybe (hopefully!) I’ll get to experience it one day 😊

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:06 am

    You must visit India and experience the diverse culture first hand. Surajkund mela is just one festival, there are many more festivals that are not well known and are incredibly enjoyable!

Rhianne · July 19, 2018 at 6:07 pm

Wow. Greet writing! Very detailed! Its just like im reading a diary. I can feel the emotions in it. And learned that this exists. First time to hear about Surajkund Mela.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:07 am

    I am glad you like the post on Surajkund mela! Surajkund mela was an eye opener for Maggie and Maureen too!

Kemi · July 22, 2018 at 9:53 pm

I love the colours and classical dance! I hope to visit India one day as it’s a very diverse and lovely country. I’m sure the ladies had fun and a different atmosphere from the UK.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:08 am

    I really wish you make a plan to visit India soon. If this post excites you, I think you will be overwhelmed in India!

Purvi Kamaliya · July 23, 2018 at 11:18 am

Really an interesting narrative. Every time I plan for Surajkund and somehow I just end up seeing the pics only. I wish one day I would be able to make it being in my own country. Beautiful pictures too. Thanks for sharing this lovely experience.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:09 am

    I have an idea. Let’s make a get together of many travel bloggers and plan a trip to Surajkund mela together.

Anjali W · July 23, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Till today I had just heard about SurajKund Mela, I am glad to be reading about it. This is such a beautiful event for cultural arts as well as spreading awareness about the social campaigns. I would be definitely be looking forward to visit it soon.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:11 am

    Hi Anjali, we tend to stay busy in our daily lives and miss out on such colorful cultural events. Let’s plan a visit to Surajkund mela as a group of travel bloggers.

Backpacking Series · July 23, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Like it when you say that Surajkund Mela is a cultural extravaganza! Have lived in Delhi for a long time and have very vague memories of experiencing the mela as a child. Your post has inspired me to do it again! Recently saw the pictures from a friend from the last one and since then was looking for more experiences. Glad to find your post! Love.. Backpacking Series.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:45 am

    Even i tend to miss out on many cultural events happening in Delhi. Let me know when you are in Delhi, we can plan a few culturally immersive experiences together.

Simone · July 23, 2018 at 4:16 pm

That was quite an experience for them, haven’t been able to come to India yet but it’s absolutely something that i have to do, so much culture to learn! Loved the pictures!

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Simone, i hope you plan a visit to India soon. There are many such melas and festivals in India that you can enjoy and be a part of !

Michelle · July 23, 2018 at 11:04 pm

It looks like an amazing cultural experience! I bet Maureen & Maggie were blown away by it. It looks so colouful, it’ll be something to think about attending when we visit India.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:48 am

    You are right, Maureen and Maggie were actually blown away and i’m sure even you would love the festival if you visit Incredible India!

Supriya Bhardwaj (Su Bha Sun) · July 24, 2018 at 5:46 am

It is always amazing to get an experience of such a cultural extravaganza. Indeed, India is incredibly beautiful.

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:50 am

    India is incredible and people are hospitable!

Claire · July 25, 2018 at 9:42 am

I loved how you tell the story of this adventure through Maggie and Maureen eyes and I love how those 2 ladies are making the most of retirement!

    Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Yes they are enjoying their retirement phase to the hilt. They were talking to the local population as if they knew them since ages. They mingled with the crowd and enjoyed the festival!

Rawan · July 26, 2018 at 3:59 am

Colours and dance what better place to be. I’ve only ever been to India once but I did not experience this. I believe another trip is due soon! Lovely article thank you for sharing.

Ambuj Saxena · July 26, 2018 at 4:52 am

Yes a trip is due for sure. One trip to India is never enough for anyone. There is so much to see and do that you need at least a couple of trips to soak in the culture. I hope you plan a trip to India soon!

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