Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Saras Mela - the Indian handmade paradise

Hello readers! How have you been?
I couldn't keep away from Deezden and you guys
as I have so much of the blissful stuff
(read: sights and sounds from Kol) to share!
One of the wonderful things about winter in India is that melas are organized,
many of them showcasing handcrafted goodies,
art (folk and traditional) and sumptuous local street food.
We visited the Saras Mela 2010,
an exhibition of rural artisans from all over India.
It was such a treat for the senses -
I'll let the photographs do the talking.
Right outside the main entrance, there was
this cutest mustard-yellow painted bhelpuri mobile store.
In a way this cart symbolizes one of the biggest weaknesses
of my life, a k a, Kolkata street food!
The festive welcome decor was bursting with colour.
They have hung terracotta bell-shapes that
looked to me like locally used chai cups we call bhars.
The fair is choc-a-block with handcrafted jewellery and beads,
as you can see, a brilliant riot of colours....
A baul selling the Iktaras (the one-stringed instruments)
taught me a thing or two about how to string and play it!
Leather handmade puppets from Andhra Pradesh,
we got home some delightful ones from the Ramayana series.
Handcrafted wooden toys from Bengal - unadulterated joy,
makes me wanna be a kid again whenever I see these.
Clay dolls in seemingly gaudy florescent colours,
wrapped in cellophane paper, included figurines of
a Bengali bride and groom, Hindu Gods and Goddesses,
freedom fighters and national heroes, saints,
even Charlie Chaplin and a certain
French blonde mademoiselle with her blue chapeau,
I heart them.
Wood-and-cloth puppets from Rajasthan -
in characters such as the snake charmer, the warrior,
the desert folk dancer, etc. in traditional costumes.
Then there were the handwoven and hand-embroidered
textiles from across the country. Here is one my favourite pieces from the fair:
Ikkat, the traditional handloom from Orissa,
this beautifully red piece bears Jagannath-ji in its delicate weave.
The hand embroidered shawls and jackets from Jammu & Kashmir
- wow craftsmanship, patterns and colours!
Each of these shawls take over a month to make.
This following stores from Rajasthan were filled with
adorable mobiles, decorations and bangles....
Finally coming to what was surely, for me, the best part of the fair:
let me introduce to you some of the delightful artists
that I had the chance to meet at the fair and
share with you their gorgeous work.
A Madhubani artist stands in front of her display,
said she made art along with a group
of eleven other female artists from her village,
every day after the day's chores are all done.
Bravo ladies, for your dedication, talent,
hard-work and entrepreneurship.
The Chitrakars (Patachitra artists) from Naya
made our visit super special. They have travelled all the way from Midnapur
after wrapping up the Pat-Maya Festival about a month ago.
Here is a photo of Tapan Chitrakar at work:
...and here, the fruit of his labour:
His daughter, a very bright young lady,
sings beautifully as she narrates one of her
father's compositions, titled ' The wedding of a (certain
Bengali) fish' in the traditional folk style.
Later on in the evening, she went up on stage and performed
in front of a large audience with her father's artwork.
The very talented Moyna Chitrakar is a feisty lady
who is carrying on her family tradition, against all odds.
(Moyna standing in the second photograph in front of
a painting made by her grandfather).
And one would see that her work is so well complimented
by her artist husband Maleek Chitrakar,
who always greets you with a smile and
very patiently explains the nuances of their compositions.
He did a beautiful narration of one of their
joint compositions, an ancient Bengali folk tale.
Art for these people is a way of life,
an invaluable heirloom that they fight to guard, nurture
and pass on to the next generation.
This is art that empowers, educates and inspires.

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did making it.
Stay inspired, stay happy.


odt said...

you have me all excited to be going home :) lovely photos, Dithi. And the stories behind each of them are that perfect icing on the cake!

Priya Ravindranath said...

awesome Pics... now I really wish I was there to buy all those delightful things....hope you shopped a lot!!

TheKeyBunch said...

These are gorgeous captures of the fair! You brought it alive for me, thanks! What did you pick up, besides the goddess pics which I am sure went right into your shopping bag:)


Designwali said...

gorgeous images!

vineeta said...

What brilliant photographs & compositions & colours. You are doing complete justice to your new camera :) :) And I want to go to Kolkatta NOW! I have been wanting to go to Kolkatta & Bengal for such a long time now, the list of things to see keeps increasing, Shanti niketan, dakshineshwar, pujo, the artistic traditions, the old bengali homes... One day I will go.

Dithi said...

odt: glad you enjoyed, have a pleasant, safe and super-enjoyable trip.

Priya: I know all that looks really tempting, I shopped (not so much) but had a blast shooting.

Sharon: I brought home Inidanized wooden babushka dolls, leather puppets, a shawl, a wall hanging... hey may be I'll post my picks next :) !

Designwali: thank you, loved your Christmas tree, just popped over 'coz I was hunting for designwali's name :)

Vineeta: Come now, we'll go together, you must stay with me. About the photographs, thank you for the nod of approval, means a lot. You are an inspiration.

Tanima said...

I'm aching to go to Kolkata now, it's been only 2 years, but it seems like forever. My mother in law is there right now, do you know of any upcoming melas? I would like her to go (and maybe bring me back something...lol). She's near the airport, but she loves travelling around the city.

Your photos are wonderful, I think I need to steal my husbands SLR and give it a shot.

Subir Ghosh said...

Each picture of yours is worth a thousand words, and then some. I discovered your blog recently and have since turned into a fan of your art. More power to you...

Dithi said...

Tanima: This fair will be there till the 20th of Dec, this is near 'Karunamayi' in Salt Lake. Next, there will be the 'Hasta Shilpa Mela' but am not sure when and where, will keep you posted if I get more info.
All the best with the dslr, yes, you must give it a try.

Subir: Thank you so much. I just came back from the local live market with more photos.

Sreetama said...

I was in Kolkata too, but I had no idea this mela was on! Ma generally keeps track of these things, but I guess with my visit and Lola going over, she must not have noticed. Bummer. Such lovely photos!

Rupa said...

Dee, I am drooling!! This mela sounds heavenly and certainly looks heavenly with all that color and talent oozing! How I wish I was there to see and shop :) Have lots of fun and shop away for all the artsy goodies. Whenever I am in India, I don't see these all India art fairs, may be I need to look more closely in BLR since that's my destination.

Strawberry Amma said...

This is wonderful wonderful photography, Dithi (Didi!)

Guess I can call you that?

The Cute Corner House said...

Hi Dithi..

Lovely work..I too love strolling in bazaars. Keep up the good work

Sound Horn Please said...

I loved the photos on the madhubani and patachitra artists. I hoped you did tons of shopping!

Jaya said...

Is this mela somewhere near saltlake..then I must have visited this mela two years ago may be..what a place that is I have such beautiful memories of that fair ..colours and vigour everywhere and you captured every moment so beautifully..splendid post :-)..hugs and smiles

Dithi said...

Sreetama: oops! would have said: come back if u can, but tomorrow is the last day, anyway, am sure u will catch it another time.

Rupa: If you are in bangalore now, you should catch Priya Sebastian's art exhibit at Plantation house http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=258936&id=349612393100

About fairs, hope you find something interesting during your visit, usually winter is the time for fairs and concerts all over.

Strawberry Amma: Yes, you are most welcome to call me that, and btw, what do I call you (apart from SA that is) :).

The Cute Corner House: Thank you.

Dithi said...

Divya: Thanks Divya, yes I did some shopping in between taking-a-lot-of- photos.

Jaya: Yes, exactly, near Karunamayi, really magical place, thank you - glad you liked the presentation.

Strawberry Amma said...

Call me Anik, since you let me call Didi.

Ambika said...

Thumbs up to this series of photographs, what a treat to the eye!

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