Dilip Guha, New Delhi
As the winter sets in, it’s time, once again, for the Poush Mela – indisputably the next big festival after Durga Puja in the Bengali cultural hub of Delhi, Chittaranjan Park. Bangiya Samaj Chittaranjan Park has organized the three-day extravaganza for over the last four decades with resounding success since 1973 at Mela Ground. Now in its 47th edition from 13th to 15th January 2023, Poush Mela had an interesting heritage. With its roots in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, and nurtured Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, it went on to become a global kaleidoscope of Bengali folk music, rural crafts, cuisine & culture.
Poush Mela usually organized at the end of the Bengali calendar month “ Poush” known as poush Sankranti is an important festival in Bengal when the Sun Lord is worshipped. The Sun enters the Capricorn sign, or Makara Rashi, on this auspicious day, marking the end of winter and the start of longer days. Bengalis observe Poush Sankranti on this day, and West Bengal hosts the massive Ganga Sagar Mela to mark the occasion.
The history of Poush Mela dates back to the year 1894 in connection with the anniversary of the Brahma Mandir founded by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore in Shantiniketan, which was later nurtured and practically made famous as one of the most celebrated festivals of Bengal by his worthy son Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the world-famous poet, author, dramatist, artist and a great nationalist of 19th & 20th century Bengal.
Inspired by a glorious past, the Poush Mela in Delhi was an eagerly-awaited bouquet of joy for all! The rich cultural heritage of Bengal needs no introduction. It has been the motherland of many intellectuals and great artists. The arts and crafts are valued as precious assets in Bengal. So, it is no wonder that a special festival “Poush Mela ” is celebrated by Chittaranjan Park Bangiya Samaj, to appreciate the rich art and culture of the of the state. It’s a celebration of Bengal’s rural life and folk culture as well which remains incomplete without the mention of Baul Sangeet or Baul Gaan, a piece of Bengali folk music. Mela is a famous stage for a performance of the traditional Baul singers. They sing about the common aspects of day-to-day life. The atmosphere they create by playing the Ektara feels spiritual. Along with it, there is always Music, Theatre & Dance programs by eminent artists from West Bengal and all over India, whether it’s folk or contemporary.
Food plays significant as it marks the beginning of the harvest season and a role in many rituals also center upon rice-based products The fairground of Poush Mela is also a makeshift culinary market with innumerable food stalls, to treat the visitors to the traditional delicacies of rural and urban Bengal as well as other states’ cuisines. An ethnic Food Fiesta and a contest of authentic Bengali cuisines just added to the charm.
The fairground of Poush Mela comes alive with a great temporary marketplace for folk artisans and rural craftsmen and their rural handicrafts. They sell their merchandise, ranging from sarees, bags, and jewelry to home decor. Chittaranjan Park Bangiya Samaj is a premier socio-cultural organization, located in Chittaranjan Park, the hub of the prime Bengali culture in Delhi often referred to as mini-Kolkata. Talking to this reporter spoke person Shri Gautam Madhav Bhattacharya General Secretary of Bangiya Samaj said “ Bangiya Samaj is primarily engaged in the work of preserving, developing, and promoting the traditional cultural heritage of India’s rich performing arts of classical dance, music, theatre, crafts, and folk arts, with special emphasis on Bengal”.
This 47th edition of poush mela had a Spectrum of attractions like Musical and dance programs by eminent artists from West Bengal, both folk & contemporary. Quiz Contests, Antakshari, debates – Discussions, Art Competitions, and many more. An ethnic Food Fiesta of authentic Bengali delicacies, Original handicraft stalls selling the finest of Sarees, Jewelry, Bags, Home Décor items, etc amongst others he informed.