The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Back to rural roots for Pous Mela

Santiniketan, Dec. 18: The Pous Mela this year will have two firsts to its credit: it will have a theme — rural industry — and students of the Vishva-Bharati University will participate in its cultural programmes.

The theme is being introduced to uphold the tradition and the idea behind the mela started by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Maharshi Debendranath, said university vice-chancellor Sujit K. Basu.

Lakhs throng the mela because it has become a hub of culture for more than a century and because they love the rural atmosphere of the mela. The increasing intrusion of corporate culture in the rural fair for the past few years had worried Vishva-Bharati, forcing it to intervene.

“Gurudev and his father had started the mela with a different perspective. The simplicity of the rural fair is gradually fading and giving way to a corporate culture. This is a contradiction of the fair’s culture as well as its concept,” said Basu. The mela, which serves as the meeting ground for local artisans and consumers in a cordial atmosphere, had been gradually morphing into a buyer-seller meet.

Starting on December 23, the mela will continue for two days. The theme, rural industry, has been chosen to highlight the plight of artisans in Bengal.

For the first time in the history of the Pous Mela, students of the university will take part in the cultural programmes. Students from the different bhavans of performing arts will participate in the song, drama and dance programmes. Earlier, only folk artists used to perform in the fair. The university will also set up a stall in the mela to spread Tagore’s ideas.

The vice-chancellor said elaborate arrangements have been made to make the mela a success. The fair committee along with the Bolpur municipal authorities have decided to start a town to fair bus service to benefit the expected five lakh visitors.

The district administration has chalked up several measures to tighten security at the fair in view of several distinguished personalities visiting the mela.

“All cars entering the main fair ground should have a pass collected from the SDPO’s office in Bolpur. Each car will have to pay Rs 100 for the passes,” said Bolpur SDPO Amarnath Mallick.

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