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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 05 March 2024

Birbhum district magistrate calls meeting with Santiniketan Trust on Pous Mela possibility

Earlier, Santiniketan Trust and Visva-Bharati had jointly decided that the fair wouldn't be organised this year because of several 'challenges' cited by the central university

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 07.12.23, 11:30 AM
Baul artistes perform at Pous Mela in Santiniketan.

Baul artistes perform at Pous Mela in Santiniketan. File picture

Birbhum district magistrate Bidhan Ray called a special meeting with Santiniketan Trust and different stakeholders of Pous Mela on Friday afternoon to know whether the fair could be organised this year.

Earlier, Santiniketan Trust and Visva-Bharati had jointly decided that the fair wouldn't be organised this year because of several "challenges" cited by the central university.

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"We have invited Santiniketan Trust, the body which officially organises Pous Mela, and different stakeholders, including non-government organisations and municipality, to discuss how the fair will be organised. The fair is an integral part of Santiniketan's
culture and the state government wants to extend all kinds of support to the
fair," said Ray, the Birbhum district magistrate.

The fair, started by Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maharshi Debendranath in 1894, was stopped in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, Visva-Bharati did not organise the Mela, again citing the pandemic. Last year, the fair was not organised as the then administration decided to stay off from the event citing a lack of infrastructure.

A senior official said the district administration was likely to approach Visva-Bharati through Santiniketan Trust to allow the use of the Pous Mela ground and the government would take all measures to organise the event.

"If Visva-Bharati denies the use of land, it will be proven that the varsity is against the fair. Then, we will organise the event on alternative ground. The state government is always in favour of holding the event as it has an impact on the local economy," said a senior government official.

In 2021 and 2022, the government, with the help of Bolpur municipality, local traders and an NGO namely Bangla Sanskriti Mancha, held the event at Dakbungalow ground. However, that was a small edition of the fair as the ground was too small to hold the event that matched the actual size of the traditional Pous Mela.

A senior Visva-Bharati official said the varsity would think and decide only after the proposal from the district administration arrived.

Acting vice-chancellor Sanjoy Kumar Mallik didn't reply to a text message when he was asked whether the varsity would provide the ground for the event. He did not take calls either.

Anil Konar, the honorary secretary of Santiniketan Trust, said he would attend the meeting.

"I have yet to receive any communication from the district magistrate or the state government. However, I will certainly attend the meeting as Trust is always for organising the Pous Mela," said Konar.

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