Dumka, Jan. 7: The district administration has begun preparations for the historical Hizla Mela Mahotsav.
The organising committee in its maiden meeting presided over by deputy commissioner Harsh Mangla today fixed February 15 as the date for inaugurating the weeklong mela, which has been held on the banks of the Mayurakshi river on the outskirts of the town since 1890.
In a major move, it was decided to revive the historical glory of the mela, which was started during British rule to bring the local tribal community into the mainstream.
Hizla Mela was actually the brainchild of the then deputy commissioner of the erstwhile Santhal Pargana district John R. Casteyars. The fair in course of time became very popular among local tribals who even now eagerly await the event every year.
After Independence, Hizla Mela emerged as an important platform for respective state governments to highlight its various development programmes particularly meant for the rural masses, but the event lost much of its sheen due to neglect.
Mangla, on the advice of the members of the organising committee comprising district administration officials and prominent citizens, ordered inviting cultural troupes from other states including Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha and Assam to make it a gala event.
“We must emphasise on the need to preserve the original tribal essence of the Hizla Mela by incorporating traditional tribal culture of Santhal Pargana,” the deputy commissioner asserted.
Different committees and sub committees were also formed to ensure smooth management and the authorities concerned were directed to see to it that the mela was highlighted in rural areas so that a large number of people visited the fair.
Notably, the state government in 2011 granted the fair the status of a Mahotsav.
However, the state government and the district administration have not been generous enough towards this century old tribal fair in terms of monetary allocations.
“Last year, the state government had allocated Rs 13 lakh to the district administration for organising the Hizla Mela in addition to the income accrued through makeshift shops and other installations. But the district administration failed to utilise even this meagre amount and Rs 3 lakh was finally returned,” said organising committee member Anil Marandi, adding that the state government therefore allocated only Rs 10 lakh for the purpose.
Marandi also alleged that many cultural events especially for tribal community were not organised by the administration last year also.
“The state government will not give more than Rs 7 lakh considering what has been happening over the last two years,” remarked another member of the organising committee.