Doused in international hues

Doused in international hues

The world has come together at a small resort in Faridabad, Haryana. The 27th Surajkund Mela, rechristened the ‘International Crafts Mela,’ is featuring stalls of no less than 20 countries this time. Artisans from nine countries of Africa (Rwanda, Guinea, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Addis Abada, Congo and Egypt), three of Eurasia (Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and nine SAARC nations (Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan) Thailand and Peru are selling their exotic wares.

The African stalls have in fact brought the whole of Africa to Surajkund. On sale are all varieties of handicrafts made of palm leaves like baskets, hats, mats, dolls etc. and cattle-skin products like baby-carriers and sandals. There are also bead ornaments to adorn your hair, waist and neck with and colourful African kaftans.

Glass figurines of animals like rhinos, elephants, crocodiles and giraffes remind one of African safaris and wooden models of tribal men and women transport you to the continent’s jungles. Juno Kabayi at the Zambia stall says, “We are participating in this fair for the first time but are most enthused with the visitors’ response. After all, the urge to connect with nature and one’s roots through handicrafts exists everywhere.”

The Eurasian countries have lent their own flavour to the fair. On display are scarves for both men and women, chadars, traditional teapot covers called Choytikush and Toque caps – all with the region’s beautiful Suzani embroidery. An exhibitor from Tajikistan, Farida Fatokhoa explains, “We are showcasing all the things a newly wed Tajik bride needs. For example, the chadars used to make curtains for the wedding night, and embroidery on teapot covers. We have also put up a Tajik bridal dress.”

Afghanistan, on the other hand, has brought its trusted woollen durries while Pakistan has got hand-embroidered kurtas and the famous Hashmi surma and kajal. The Bangladeshi exhibitors are displaying Jamdani weave and Dhakai silk sarees to a host of Bengali women. One claim: “This was worn by Aishwarya in Devdas,” and all were sold.

The Bhutan stall, meanwhile, presents a peaceful picture of Buddhism with Thangka paintings, prayer wheels, prayer flags and organic products like room sprays, soaps, herbal teas and incense sticks. Unique to them are also Yak hair carpets and clothes.

Kids are flocking to the Sri Lanka pavilion to see their ferocious masks. Over a hundred colourful masks, depicting demons of fire, animals, diseases and bad omens, are grabbing eyeballs. A spokesperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, Vickram Rajasinghe explains, “Masks are crucial to Lanka’s mythology and religious rituals. They are used in our folk theatre as well.”

Thailand, as usual, is doing roaring business with its myriad flower decorations, designer lanterns and massage oils. As one visitor Kirti Pandya said, “I heard a lot about the Thailand pavilion’s stuff during the Trade Fair. However, I couldn’t attend it at that time. Thanks to Surajkund Mela, I’ll pick up all the hair accessories. Indeed the world has become one global village with such fairs.”

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