Curtains fall on Surajkund fair; 4.5 lakh footfalls recorded

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Surajkund, Haryana, Feb 16 (UNI) The exposition of the country's great cultural heritage ended here last night amid great pomp and ceremony with the 22nd Surajkund Crafts Mela bidding a goodbye to all art lovers.

Jointly organised by Union Tourism Ministryt Handicrafts Development Commissioner, Handlooms Development Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, and Haryana Tourism, the fair, held during the first fortnight of February every year, offered a chance to talented painters, weavers, sculptors and craftsmen to exhibit their creations and share them with the common man.

''Our country has always respected the artisans and this has been our duty to bring their hardwork and perfection, depicted in their crafts work, before the public,'' said Haryana Governor A R Kidwai, who was the chief guest at the closing-cum-prize distribution ceremony at the fair. He was welcomed at the Vishnupur Gate on the fair premises with dancing folk artistes and thumping drumbeats.

With the advent of vibrant spring season, the Surajkund fair engulfs itself in colourful traditional crafts of the country and other nations. The huge variety of interesting crafts and the relaxing rural ambience of the fair grounds attract visitors from all corners of the world.

The entrance ticket price for the fair was increased by Rs 10 this year, making it Rs 35.

Haryana Tourism Commissioner and Secretary Keshni Anand Arora, who was also present on the occasion, said, ''About 400 craftsmen from different states participated in the fair this year with Assam and Madhya Pradesh being the new entries,'' adding that a total of 4.5 lakh people visited the fete out of which 15,000 were foreigners.

Dr Kidwai also presented the prestigious awards -- Kala Ratan, Kala Mani, Kala Nidhi and Kala Shri, to select 17 craftspersons. The fair proved the fact that the country's craftsmen live a respectful and successful life, he said.

''I feel really honoured to get the value for my work which requires much patience, skill and innovative thinking. It is an art to be kept alive to prevent extraction,'' said Subhadra Devi (68) from Bihar on receiving the Kala Ratan award for Paper Machie work.

This year, along with eight SAARC nations, Brazil and Thailand also participated in the fair with zest and gutso. The Sri Lankan Government has also expressed its willingness to organise the same kind of a fair in their country, Ms Arora added.

West Bengal was the theme state for the mela this year. State Additional Chief Secretary Tourism Bijoy Chatterjee informed that about 60 craftsmen and 120 best folk dancers from the state participated in the fair, along with leading designers showcasing their best designs.

''In India, the tourism industry holds nine per cent of the total employment and this fair has helped in adding to it, while showcasing the tourism potential of all the states,'' he added.

The 'Chau' dance of West Bengal and 'Ghummar' dance of Haryana were also presented on the occasion. The fair ended on a colourful note with a dazzling treat of fireworks and balloon flying.

UNI GL MS KP1724

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