Suraj Kund (Faridabad), Feb.7 : The famous Suraj Kund Mela or handloom and handicrafts fair that started this past week here for its 22nd annual edition is fascinating a large number of people including international tourists.
Organised jointly by the Union Tourism Ministry and Haryana tourism department, the Suraj Kund fair has been a major draw for people from National Capital Region (NCR)- the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi and neighboring satellite towns of Faridabad and Gurgaon in Haryana , and NOIDA , Greater Noida and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Be it college students, office-goers or families all are thronging at Suraj Kund, a place eight kilometers from south Delhi, to witness a grand exhibition of Indian art, culture and also enjoy a variety of cuisines of various States here.
This year's theme State has been West Bengal at Suraj Kund fair. The 61 artisans from the State are drawing a large number of visitors at the fair.
Some of the major attractions at the fair include artistic leather craft, brass and bell metal, cane and bamboo, clay dolls, jute products, masks and puppets.
Artisans say that the daily earnings at the fair are about rupees 10,000 to 30,000 (253 to 760 US dollars).
"I have come here for the first time. A large number of Indian and foreign tourists visit this fair and buy things. Yesterday I earned rupees 12,000 (303 dollars). Today, I am hoping that the sales will increase. Everything is nice here," said Taronath Kumbhkar, one of the artisans from West Bengal.
Nemichand Sakhe, another artisan, said that Uttar Pradesh's Mainpuri District was the only place of the country where "Tarkashi", the ancient art of Mainpuri District, has thrived. He thanked the State government for encouragement. It takes at least three days to prepare a piece of Tarkashi that costs between rupees 250 (6.5 dollars) to 15,000 (380 dollars).
"Yesterday, I did a business of nearly about rupees 30,000 (760 US dollars) at the fair. I am expecting that all the artwork will be finished in four to five days the fair's conclusion. If we find any (buying) party, we send artwork to them as per their designs. Normally we export through Export Corporation of Uttar Pradesh. We have found some parties here in Surajkund Mela (fair) also, who are interested in our artwork. They want us to export our artwork to them," said Nemichand Sakhe, a Tarkashi artisan, Mainpuri.
Interestingly, this year there are also participants from Latin America. A few Brazilians, participating in the Suraj Kund fair, were excited to be a part of such a marvellous handloom and handicrafts fair.
"We are very glad to be able to show our art, art-craft in India and people seem to be very much interested. Also our artisans have got an opportunity to get to know more of art-crafts in India in Surajkund Mela. So it has been a very pleasant experience for us," said the visiting Carlos Cas of the foreign ministry of Brazil, Brasilia. Surajkund Mela has attracted lakhs of visitors both from within and outside India.
"This is my first time here at the Suraj Kund fair and I am enjoying it very much. I enjoyed Punjabi songs and dances. There are so many handicrafts, they are very beautiful, the statues and the shawls and the paper cards. We are really enjoying watching everything," said Gautam, a non resident Indian (NRI) from New York.
For many, visiting Suraj Kund fair is an opportunity to see master craftsmen from all over India working at the same venue. Surajkund fair is an ideal platform to rediscover the culture of India.
"It's very nice...you can find very beautiful things here and I come every year to buy some special things and the food is nice. I think Indian crafts are very special in the world. I am an Italian, I love the beauty, the beautiful things but I think Indians are very similar, very creative," said Marina, a visitor from Italy.
Besides a display of various handcrafted and handloom products, the Suraj Kund fair is also showcasing the different classical, tribal and folk art forms of the Indian subcontinent.
Over 400 craftsmen from various parts of the country and abroad, are participating in the fair.
In 2007, about seven lakh domestic and 25,000 foreign tourists visited the fair. The collection at the gates through sale of tickets was a whopping rupees six million (151,937 dollars). The number of visitors this year is anticipated more than last year.
Last year, an increase of 25 per cent visitors was recorded which is being anticipated to 30 per cent for this year by organisers. By Shraddha Anand/Sherya