We at Delhi-Fun-Dos have always been for “Made in India” ethos long before it became a political statement. Be it Dastkar, Surajkund, Khadi or the humble mustard relish Kasundi, we have always celebrated the rich repertoire of Indian food, crafts and culture with swelling pride.
But a crafts fair in summer is somewhat unusual in Delhi NCR. So Ajeevika Mela, a handicrafts fair in mid April, one would expect to be some small initiative by local crafts groups. In view of the heat, the organisers had ensured that the fair was held in a fully air conditioned hall and in fact, the entry charges were waived as well.We learnt this was an event displaying goods produced by rural women and to respect their efforts, decided to attend.
When we reached Hall 18 of Pragati Maidan, one of the largest venues where foreign participants are consolidated during IITF, we were in for surprise. This was no small crafts mela, it was a wholesome event covering arts, crafts and several aspects of Indian culture.
At the entrance, there was a make shift stage where folk performances were being held. Here is a glimpse of the lovely Manipuri song dance number that we recorded.
The basement, ground and first floors of Hall 18 are huge and they were choc-a-bloc with stalls in all possible directions. From organic spices to pure, handwoven wool, cotton and silk, turmeric to natural soap, bags, saris, shoes, walnuts, pickles and condiments and a wide range of other things were available at very reasonable prices. The touch of the artisan’s hand could almost be felt in every product. Sitting in Delhi, one could get items from far south like a special rectangle fry pan for tossing dosa or aamshotto – aam papad sun dried in rural Bengal or colourful lacquer bangles from Madhubani in Bihar. Everything was very reasonably priced and we were humbled by the simplicity of the crafts people who were directly selling their ware.
Jeevika means livelihood and the Ajeevika Mela was another eye opener into the rich world of small scale industries from household to co-operative levels in villages all over India. A glimpse of this fair:
We salute our rural crafts sector for making our lives in cities prettier and tastier and look forward to the next edition of Ajeevika Mela.