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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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A fair themed on mother and child

The theme at Nicwon Sanskritik Mela this year was ‘mother’ and her forms. The stage, made from straw mats, had an imposing design of a mother with children on both sides. The mother is best signified through the goddesses of Hindu mythology and so the 9th edition of the mela had some interesting taal (palm) leaf models of folk goddesses as its décor. The 13 models represented Sasthi, Kali, Tara, Saraswati, Sarashi and other goddesses of folk tradition. “We have depicted Bengal’s baro mashe tero parbon through the models,” said Partha Nag, the director of Nicwon Centre for Performing Arts in Bally.

Striving to do something different every year, the Nicwon Centre for Performing Arts has successfully roped in well-wishers and advisors, who provide ideas for the fair every year. Writer Sankha Ghosh is one such advisor, who has been associated with the group for the past five years. He has been visiting the fair for the past two years. “I admire the way a group of youngsters are trying hard to hold up the traditions and culture of our country. They do not just do it among themselves but also include local schools and students to spread their ideas. We always lament that we are losing our traditions to cultural decadence but we never notice these small groups, who are trying to uphold these in their own way,” said Sankha Ghosh.

The ideas are generated by the group’s members, primarily by Partha. “They conceive a theme for the fair and come to me for advice. I help them in whatever way I can,” said Ghosh. “Sankha Ghosh is our guide for our fair as well as other activities that we do. In this case, he generally gives us a detailed picture of how to organise the fair so that it is in keeping with the theme. He helps us with books, information and other important inputs related to the theme,” said Partha.

A special guest is expected at Nicwon’s mela every year and this year it was Soumitra Chattopadhyay. He visited the fair on the opening day and was impressed by what he saw. “We understand culture as dance and music alone, but I feel that organising such a fair helps in promoting cultural ideas,” said Chattopadhyay in his address. As the theme was Ma, folk dances related to gods and goddesses were staged on the three days of the fair from January 18 to 20. Malda’s Durga Mukhosh Nach was staged on the first day and Howrah’s Mangalika Kalika on the second day. Bankura has its own version of Chhau, different from that of Purulia and a group from Jhargram staged Sitala Panchali on the last day.

Around the fair grounds were stalls selling typical items found in village fairs. Wooden utensils, stuffed toys, jute bags, jewellery, masks and also pithe and patishapta. Students from schools of Bally had put up exhibitions on different subjects, related to the mother.