SurajKund Mela 2015: An Epitome of Culture, Food and Local Life

Surajkund Mela - Tribal performer entertaining visitor with local music
Tribal performer entertaining visitor with local music – Surajkund Mela 2015

A picturesque ambience filled with a splash of colours, tribal music playing across boulevard, variety of sumptuous food options and  enthralling audience is what “SurajKund Mela 2015” is all about.  The Mela was first organised in 1987 , marked by a show of talent from skilled artists and craftsmen from across India. The whole festival site came alive with colourful confetti, make-shift stalls, and traditional items for visitors to buy from the various countries and states. Thereafter, every year a state is chosen for the Mela, to highlight the state in totality covering its architecture, fine arts and crafts. This year Chhattisgarh is chosen as the Theme State to showcase its rich tribal heritage & culture.The Mela is executed, organized and hosted by Harayana Tourism Corporation and is a symbol of pride for all tourism boards including international tourism as well.

Surajkund Mela - Tribal performer entertaining visitor with local music
Tribal performer entertaining visitor with local music – Surajkund Mela 2015
Surajkund Mela - Tribal dance performer during entry of Mela
Tribal dance performer during entry of Mela – Surajkund Mela 2015

The 15-day extravaganza, was inaugurated by Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar while Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Dr. Raman Singh inaugurated the ‘Apna Ghar’ – a prototype of a typical Chhattisgarhi house. He mentioned that Chhattisgarh is happy to be associated with the Mela which is one of world’s largest exhibitions for art, culture and crafts. It is sure to give a tremendous boost to the state toursim.

As one enters the Mela, one would see a series of cultural dance performances by various tribals from Chhattisgarh and other states as well. I enjoyed “Gedi Dance” ,which is performed by the men of one of the tribes of Bastar, where men wore colourful clothes using bamboo sticks as props. As I entered the mela, I was flabbergasted to see the whole alley was decorated with Bastar art , massive “Malhar Gate” – gate to Pataleshwar Temple, where Malhar  is a remarkable depiction of Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. The entry to the festival is made so lively that each corner, each tree, each area is decorated with various artificial, colourful flowers, paper flower motif , Dhokar Art from Chhattisgarh, bedecked folk dancers and handmade artistic drawing. Walking from the gate , there was a traditional centre court having a structure of a man, embedded with tree trunk and leaves which showcased health practices of the tribals in Chhattisgarh, basis plants  zealously guarded by locals for biodiversity . The state boasts of more than 880 traditional healers and more than 1500 medicinal plant species.

Surajkund Mela - Bastar Art
Bastar Art- Surajkund Mela 2015
Surajkund Mela - Traditional trees & plants with medicinal information
Traditional trees & plants with medicinal information – Surajkund Mela 2015
Surajkund Mela - Gates to various entries which mesmerised the crowd
Gates to various entries which mesmerised the crowd-Surajkund Mela 2015

Along with the states of India, I observed various countries showcasing their culture, like Lebanon,Thailand, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Uzbekistan, etc . Considering that Mela ground is spread across 40 acres, it would be difficult to find places of choice that you wish to check out. However, technology has made things very accessible. So I downloaded “ Surajkund Mela app“ which is helpful to find the routes as well. It gives you various options to locate main attractions, info about fair, artist profile, stall number, event schedule, etc. With this information I walked across the Mela with great pride and tried capturing in the little things of sundry charms. Surajkund Mela also offers a great opportunity  for visitors to see the tourism culture of a particular state besides few international regions, as they see some part of it right through the Mela.

Surajkund Mela - Evening light falling across make -shift stalls for shopping
Evening light falling across make -shift stalls for shopping, Surajkund Mela 2015

During the fair, various folk dances, quizzes, musical evenings are held in an amphitheatre, organised by each tourism board to showcase their culture. I happened to witness the tribal music derived from Bastar region of Chhattigarh . There were also performances by famous Qawwals Addul Hamid Sabri & Razia Bano, and Rajasthani folk by famous Manganyaar/Langaa singers and Haryanavi Tadka by famous atist Gajender Phogat.

Surajkund Mela - Various live performances showcase their talent through music and dance
Various live performances showcase their talent through music and dance – Surajkund Mela 2015

Now the part which I always crave to hunt down in mela, is the local food on offer. The fair along with multicultural episodes also compliments various cuisines from states & international tourism.The Mela offers every visitor a unique culinary rendezvous with local and rich food. Since theme state being Chhattisgarh, I decided to cherish the cuisine which was simple and modest.Their staple ingredient is rice, along side various influences of pulses (daals), curries, chutneys (pastes) and subzis (vegetables), which enhance the experience. The cuisine is very high on taste, but also high on health the combination is made of vitamins and proteins. Spoiled for choices, I tried Kari Laddu- A sweet Laddu made of Besan sev and jaggery, Gulgula– a sweet bhajia prepared with wheat flour and jaggery, Thethri– prepared with gram flour  and Murra Laddu -a laddu prepared with murmure and jaggery.

 Surajkund Mela - Types of snacks and savouries

Types of snacks and savouries – Surajkund Mela 2015

The next round of tasting involved Rice Chila– made like a rice like dosa and served with chutney( usually had in breakfast), followed by Urad Bada- prepared with soaked Urad and eaten with sour kadi. Later to fulfill my sweet cravings, I had Khaja which is prepared from refined flour and sugar. I quite fell in love with the taste of Bijauri- a papad prepared with seeds of Rakhiya.

Next I wanted to try some of the main dishes. So there was Chhattisgarh Thali” with a variety of vegetables kept in the pot to keep them cooking and rich in flavour. The dish had bread- angra bread which was semi hard to go with the vegetables. They also had variety of chutneys like Patal Chutney (tomato Chutney), garlic chili chutney and garlic chili (roasted) chutney. There was chench bhaji (red),spinach Bhaji, dubki kadi, pickle- dahi mirch (yoghurt chili),and gulgula (like sweet Dish).They also had traditional Chhattisgarhi vegetable jimikanda, munga, jurgarkhiya badi, fried bhata, masoor batkar,etc. The entire area of food court was decorated with 3-D fabric fruits and leaves and entrance was decorated with a giant rainbow and big size sunflower.

 Surajkund Mela - Traditional Chhattisgarhi vegetable
Traditional Chhattisgarhi vegetable -Surajkund Mela 2015
 Surajkund Mela - Traditional Chhattisgarh Thali
raditional Chhattisgarh Thali- SurajKund Mela, 2015

After the sumptuous meal, I was sure that I would return to Mela another day to try other cuisines as well and various zones they had constructed as per season as well. The richness and diversity of art, culture, food local life is definitely an enthralling experience for a visitor.

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