This year, Asia’s largest cattle fair would not be confined to mere animal trade.
It would be a multi-purpose carnival incorporating shopping, entertainment and cultural activities — a first for the Sonepur Mela, which would be inaugurated on Tuesday. This year’s mela is being handled by the tourism department. Expectations, naturally, are sky-high.
The total area of the fair has been increased from nine to 25 acres. A makeshift mall having a capacity of nearly 60 stalls has also been developed.
Renowned sand artist from Puri, Nikunja Kishor Nayak, would build and showcase his creations in front of the stalls, depicting the state’s culture. The tourism department also intends to webcast the event.
Tourism minister Sunil Kumar said: “Till previous years, the Sonepur fair used to be organised by the revenue department. This time, the task was given to us. We roped in a Delhi-based event management firm. There would be dedicated zones for different segments like automobiles, fast-moving consumer goods, electronics, entertainment and kids’ zone among others. Last year, approximately 8,94,725 people visited the fair. We expect the number to rise to 11 lakh this time.”
He added: “The mela premises would be under CCTV surveillance. Intensive monitoring would also be done by department officers.”
The tourism minister said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the British Army and the tourism department in the World Travel Market, London, from November 5 to 8.
Around 4,000 personnel of the British Army would visit Bodhgaya for a week from the first week of January.