Folk dancers at the fair: The Surajkund Crafts is an annual event that highlight some of the finest handloom and handicraft traditions of the country. From 1st to 15th February rural India basks in the warmth of admiration at Surajkund mela village that lies some 8 km from South Delhi. The Mela also celebrates the rhythms of folk theatre- and a theme State that makes each visitor marvel
Development Commissioner for Handlooms, Commissioner Development (Handicrafts)
- To create a rural ambience for the foreign and domestic tourist to see.
- To educate patrons both from abroad, urban centres and educational institutes about the fascinating technique and skills involved in craft creation.
- To introduce crafts and craftspersons directly to the buyers and help them find their patrons.
- To Identify, nurture and preserve languishing crafts of the country and save it for posterity.
Suraj Kund is a beautiful tourist location of Haryana Tourism and in its lovely setting, folk painters, metal workers, stone and wood carvers, tie dye craftspersons, embroiders, lace makers, textiles printers, carpet and loom weavers, producers of silk fabrics, jewellers and sculptors- execute and display their skills. The entrance to fair: The fortnight long celebrations also come as a food festival. Some of the popular food traditions from Punjab come at the Punjabi 'Rasoi'. South Indian delicacies come in from South Indian Section. Popular Chinese and snack foods also arrive for the event along with a special stalls where patrons are introduced to the traditional foods and sweet meats of the selected theme State. A woman tries the art of heena artist: The Surajkund Crafts Mela has grown equally famous for the rhythms of folk theatre: It resonates with the formal notes of the classical genre: The heady rhythms of percussion instruments: The ballads of singing minstrels: The clebration of the simple joys of rural life and reverence of epic traditions all mingle well. All these colourful events are also presented before the audience in the open-air-theatre named Natyashala. Folk dancers performing at the fair: Some of the most deligtful crafts collections of the Mela arrive from practically all over the country. In wood and cane come inlay work, rose wood carving, sandal wood from Punjab and South India. Chiki wood craft of Kashmir and some very fine cane craft come from West Bengal and North Eastern States. One more: Delcate sholapith and shital patti work come from Assam and West Bengal. The phulkari of Punjab, the Banjara and Banni embroidery of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the Kantha traditions from West Bengal and Tripura, lace and crochet from Goa, the Suzni of Kashmir and Mirror encasing work along with the traditional chikan work of Lucknow delight.Oxidized jewellery, sea shell decorations and agate stone work delight as also do delicate gold work and chunky silver jewellery. Toys in wood and cane, ply and mud make the young thrill with joy. Some of the fine phad paintings of Rajasthan, the kalamkari of Andhra and Karnataka, temple paintings of Orissa, madhubani of Bihar, fascinate. In the metal section tribal dhora work, classical south Indian metal work, glittering brass ware, bell metal and iron craft delight collectors. In the field of woven textiles some of the finest silk work of Orissa, Patola, Bandhini of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Ikat, Kanjeevaram, Dharmavaram and temple silks of South India vie for attention with the most simple cottons of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and tribal textiles of North East India as also do the handloom of Haryana. The Various Crafts particpated in the Mela every year. The Introduction of some of the Crafts are as follows:
Cane & Bamboo
The Mela is a paradise for the shoppers’ and one could see an entire spectrum of buyers, with their hands laden with bags.
Among the crafts this year, woodcraft garnered special attention and praise. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of stalls of this craft this year. The craftsmen of this art find the platform of the Surajkund Crafts Mela extremely beneficial, as they get immense publicity and recognition. It also helps them to add to their income, which supports for almost the whole year. The mela provides them an elevated stage, with large number of buyers, wherein they get an opportunity to popularise their age old craft in addition to reaping the benefits of selling their products directly to the consumers.
These craftsmen, to say the least, have emerged as the flag bearers of the dying art of wooden carving. Due to the advent of variety of machines, handmade wood carvings find it difficult to sustain in the present day market but a platform like Surajkund Crafts Mela provides unique opportunity for them to sell these products to those buyers who understand the artistic value of these handicraft. Surajkund Crafts Mela mainly has the craftsmen, who have been the recipients of national or state awards. These master craftsmen are the real ambassadors of India for the foreign tourists, who throng the mela, in large numbers, every year. The craft can easily be seen gaining popularity in foreign countries, especially the Arabian countries, where woodcraft has a special place in the hearts of the people.
Abdul Rehman Siddiqui is one such craftsperson, who hails from Saharanpur, UP, and has been in this business for the past 50 years. He learnt his art and skill from his forefathers. He and his nephew Shahid Siddiqui have already helped more than 150 other youngsters to learn the tricks of this trade. Recipient of national award for his woodcarving, Siddiqui had a chance to hone up his skills in wood carvings by visiting Germany. This exposure to a foreign land has provided him an edge over other craftsmen in this trade. This is for the second time that he has got an opportunity to exhibit his craft at the Surajkund Crafts Mela and he finds it extremely profitable, he confessed.
Basher Ahmed, one of the other craftsmen, also hails from UP. He makes an exclusive use of brass on wood carvings. He makes variety of walking sticks, jewellery boxes, coaster sets and even hair clips with this art. His entire family is devoted to this craft for more than 100 years. He also holds a national award for the year 1984.
Sardar Hussein makes use of block printing art on wooden boxes. From mirror frames to candle stands, one can find beautiful wooden artifacts with intricate designing. He has been bestowed with Shilp Guru Award, in 2006, for his special creations.
The mela provides a perfect blend of cultural heritage of various states of India. The cultural events showcase the various aspects like with ethnicity, environment and prosperity of various regions of our country. Khalil Mohammed Kalwal, a craftsman from Kashmir, was demonstrating the art of walnut wood carving in the Surajkund Mela, grounds at stall No.281. He has already exhibited his craft in various countries like Dubai and Romania. The beauty of his art lies in the fact that walnut wood is exclusively used for his creations. He finds this platform very lucrative for his business where he earned name, fame and his livelihood.
This mela is a perfect platform for direct sales as the chances of traders and middlemen to reap benefits out of the creations of the craftsmen is completely shelved, commented Kahlil Kalwal. It also gives them a chance to provide authentic handmade wood craft to their customers as per their own choice. Surajkund Crafts Mela has craftsmen participating from far flung areas like Leh and Ladakh also, who have caught the attention of the buyers. Tsering Namgyar makes use of special wood of Leh and Ladakh region and carves them out to make beautiful tables and boxes. These are matchless, commented one of the foreigners visiting the mela.
Nafisa Begum, a recipient of national award makes sure that she employs economically poor so that they can learn the art of wood carving and become self dependent. Women from extremely poor households, widows and young girls, are also taught the art of woodcraft to alleviate the problem of poverty to some extent. It was heartening to see that these struggling crafts-persons play an active role in the society as a whole.
The Surajkund Crafts Mela authority this year decided to promote this almost dying craft to make it self-sustainable. Fifteen work huts were offered to various craftsmen, belonging to this field, and the response at theses stalls was overwhelming