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Colourful start to Toshali crafts fair

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 16: The 7th Toshali National Crafts Mela started at the Janata Maidan here yesterday amid attractive folk and Odissi music performances.

An array of crafts from all over the country is available at the annual fair organised by the Union ministry of tourism, the Odisha departments of tourism, textiles, and handloom and handicrafts, and the development commissioner for handicrafts and handlooms.

Music of the traditional ghanta mrudanga (gongs and percussion) and sankhadhwani or conch-blowing resounded in the colourfully decorated Janata Maidan which attracted many shoppers on the opening day itself.

Handloom products, fancy home décor items, jewellery and other fashion accessories such as Punjabi shoes, tribal ornaments from states such as Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, and many more crafts are on display at the fair.

About 300 kiosks have been set up by the 23 participating states. There are at least 186 handicraft and 82 handloom kiosks. Three Saarc nations — Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan — are also participating in the fair this year. Although craft items will be available on all the 13 days of the fair, the highlight of the event was folk dance and music. An animal mask dance by artistes from Raghurajpur captivated visitors who had gathered in huge numbers around the set up of a typical Odia village’s cultural stage installed on the fair ground.

Renowned Odissi vocalists such as Keshab Rout and Sangita Gosain also mesmerised the audience with Odissi Champu and Chhanda.

“The much-awaited annual crafts mela is an elaborate affair of handicrafts and handlooms and provides a common platform for domestic and international craftsmen to showcase their products,” said state tourism secretary Ashok Tripathy.

The fair will continue till December 27.