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The Desert Queen Rules Aapno Gaon Rajasthani Mela

She always plays in a loop on our “brain’s iPod”. So when she appeared in person at Aapno Gaon Rajasthani Mela, held at Nicco Park Big Lawn in association with t2, age became just another number for one and all. Ila Arun’s rasping rendition of Choli ke peechhe, Chhaiyya chhaiyya, Ringa ringa, Gupchup gupchup always makes the crowd step it up.

“Rajasthani culture is responsible for making me what I am today. I have grown up listening to Rajasthani sangeet from native singers. Aapno Gaon is a very good idea to spread our culture. Indians go abroad to have fun. Instead, they should enjoy these melas. Being in Calcutta and amidst the Marwari community is sone pe suhaga. When I arrived, I felt like I had entered Pushkar Mela. I loved the Chokhi Dhani (the dining area); it’s a perfect replica of the one in Rajasthan,” said Arun, before taking the stage.

Making this an affair to remember was the spread of Daal-baati-churma, Baajre ki Roti, Gwarfali ki Sabji, Gatte ki Sabji, Rabri, Malpoa and Gond Paak.

“The Chokhi Dhani food tastes fabulous. It reminds me of my grandmother’s recipes. This mela reminds me of the wonderful visits I have made to Rajasthan,” said Harsh Neotia while sampling the Rajasthani fare, with Sundeep Bhutoria by his side.

“I have been coming to this mela from the very first year. The festival has grown over the years. The people of Bengal get an opportunity to enjoy Rajasthani culture. The Chokhi Dhani is the biggest attraction here,” said Bhutoria, who did a Ganesh aarti at the mela before touring all the attractions there.

Besides celebrating Rajasthani culture, Aapno Gaon also paid tribute to legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra. The evening of December 30 was, in fact, dedicated to him. Singers Shashi Suman and Zublee Baruah waltzed down memory lane by singing popular numbers like Kabhi kabhi, Mere dil mein aaj kya hai, Rang barse and Hum hain raahi pyar ke.

Malancha Dasgupta

Pictures: Arnab Mondal and

Bhubaneswarananda Halder