Bengal’s heritage winter fair ‘Poush Mela’, which was set to be held in Santiniketan after a hiatus of three years, has been called off by its organisers, citing lack of time to prepare for the event, officials said.
The Visva Bharati and the Santiniketan Trust, in a joint statement, said it does not seem feasible to hold the fair this year despite “all the good intentions”.
The central university, had, however, announced on December 2 that a consensus emerged over organising the fair.
“It was unanimously decided after threadbare discussion by all present… that it does not seem feasible for the Santiniketan Trust and the university to organise the ‘Poush Mela’ in 2023 despite all good intentions,” Visva Bharati spokesperson Mahua Banerjee said in the joint statement.
The decision to not go ahead with the fair was taken at a meeting attended by three Santiniketan Trust members, including former officiating VC Sabujkali Sen, members of the executive council of the varsity, academics and administrative officials, it said.
Despite the efforts of officiating VC Sanjay Kumar Mallik since joining (on November 9), the remaining period is extremely short for arranging an event of this scale, the statement said.
“Members of the Santiniketan Trust emphasised that a small, symbolic mela because of lack of adequate time, is financially non-viable,” it said.
“Work like cleaning of water bodies adjacent to the mela ground, sanitation, electricity, security... is also an effort of massive scale, which the university is not in a position to manage within the short duration available for the ‘Poush Mela’,” the statement added.
The fair, held on the seventh day of Bengali month 'Poush' which falls in late December, was first organised by ‘Maharshi’ Debendranath Tagore, father of Visva Bharati founder Rabindranath Tagore, in 1894 to showcase the handicrafts, heritage and culture of Bengal, particularly Birbhum district.
Since 1951, the ‘Poush Mela’ is being organised by the Visva Bharati University in collaboration with the trust and with support from the West Bengal government. The trust, set up by Debendranath Tagore, owns around 11 bighas in and around the varsity campus.
It was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and again in 2022 because of logistical difficulties faced by the organisers.
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