West Bengal has been the birthplace of many great artists, intellects, scientists and renowned poets in the world. The art and craft is treasured as priceless asset here. Bengal is a nation of fairs and festivals and its rich cultural tradition does not need any introduction. The state celebrates countless festivals throughout the year. Many known and traditional festivals like Durga Pooja, Diwali, harvest festivals like Jhapan and tourism festival like Teesta Tea are commonly observed and celebrated here.
Some little-known things about Paush Mela:
Apart from very known and own Durga Pooja and Kali Pooja, ‘The Festival of Paush’ has a lot of importance too and is celebrated with full liveliness. As the name suggests, Paush Mela is celebrated in the 7th day of Bengali month of Paush i.e. in end of December. Winter is celebrated as a season of growth, success and festivals and is a delightful season for many. In many places, especially in small towns and villages, Winter is celebrated for several reasons with unique colors and flavor than its typical facet. So, to cherish this amusing art and culture of the state and season Bengal has a celebration of ‘Paush Mela’.
Paush Mela is celebrated in Santiniketan in Birbhum district of West Bengal. It is one of the important and colorful rural carnival celebrated here with huge glory, magnificence, excitement, liveliness and shows the real essence of Bengali culture. The Mela is the perfect site for blending of different cultures and traditions as people belonging not only from different part of the country but also from across the globe participate in the fair. With the popularity and liking of this festival all over the world, today it is one of the worldwide event that gives Bengal a unique and known identity. The Mela is organized for 3-4 days, at Santiniketan and visitors from all over the world visit the place to become the part of the celebration.
The Paush Mela is started as a small Tagore family affair accompanied by few followers of Brahmo Samaj. A small fair was organized at the temple of lord Brahma at Santiniketan to celebrate the anniversary of the temple. This small homely fair later started attracting tourists from nearby village and then gradually become an internationally recognized affair today. The Mela has around 1500 stalls of various things like local cuisines, printed fabrics, handicrafts, toys, etc. and also attracts Baul musicians, local village artists, Tribal dancers and millions of visitors from all over the world.
Main Attractions at Paush Mela:
Live Folk Music and Dances
Baul Music refers to a specific type of folk song performed by the Bauls. Baul is a magical singing group from West Bengal and are specialized in singing mainly religious songs using lots of instruments. The songs are strongly influence by Hindu religion and represents the culture and lifestyle of the Bengalis.
Folk Dance and Music forms a major part of the life in West Bengal. Different tribal groups perform their cultural and traditional folk dances. The bright and colorful attire of dancers attracts everyone’s mind.
Students of Santiniketan actively participates in the art and craft festival, live performances and dance to the local music to make the celebration more colorful.
Shopping is the main attraction here that attracts many visitors to Paush Mela. It is the place where one can get variety of arts, crafts, handmade jewelry, bags and other items from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, under one roof. Beautiful specimens of handmade Batik print and Taant saree is one of the famous art here. Additionally, the artistic jewelry made using different materials like wood, brass, shells, bamboo, jute, mud and stones is really captivating and attractive.
Food is a basic part of Bengali culture so don’t miss to treat yourself with some authentic treats of Bengal. The Mela has huge variety of sweet, salty and spicy delights that will tantalize your taste buds.
Book your calendar now to visit Paush Mela that takes place between in December (roughly between 22nd December to 26th December). The entry is free to all the three days.
Paush Mela at Santiniketan is perfect example of cultural paradise and can never be satisfying. Apart from the fun filled days of the fair, experience and try to live the Bengali spirit in true sense and visit it at least once to see the uniqueness in Paush Mela.
Photo by Soumyadeep Paul