Friday, 15 February 2013



Life is becoming more vibrant year by year at the Surajkund International Crafts Fair. It was the 27th year of its existence. Artists and artisans are nice people and I haven’t found anyone slipping from etiquettes for fraction of a second but the food stall business persons at the fair are irksome and an unwanted lot. They fleece the customers by charging not only exorbitant prices but also step up the prices four times the best of competitive market price for the stuff and items sold over the counter. I always carried my tiffin to the Fair and never visited a food stall. My sincere advice to the visitors is: take your food box or tiffin with you and the joy of visiting the fair will be far more at less expense. In fact, only Haryana Tourism catering department should open and manage food stalls at the Fair ground, which can charge moderately. 

The Fair ground is virtually a photographers' heaven but only until 1 PM because in the afternoon the whole of open spaces suddenly turn black as hair and head become more prominently visible as cover than glimpses of the colorful items of the crafts persons that are displayed all around. It becomes difficult to even take a sneak on them.The Haryana Govt. is a staunch business entity and earns crores through auction of stalls and sale of tickets as entry fee/permit. The Haryana Tourism maintains a three/four star hotel at the premises that is mostly occupied by Haryana Govt.’s senior officials or bureaucrats as well as the politicians and members of their families. No space for others! This is not fair. The performing artistes are strained every day and I have a feeling that neither their night stay is comfortable nor nourishing food is served to them. I have seen the feet of these artistes bleeding as they continue to give three to seven performances per day at minimum of DA......may be not more than 500 per diem. Very sad picture indeed! The Govt. of Haryana seems to the ruthless and careless as their officials also do not allow freelance journalists, photographers and writers to visit the fair free of cost.

My today’s visit at International Crafts Fair held annually at Surajkund in the first fortnight of the month of February wasn’t satisfactory and could provide as much contentment from a photographer’s point of view as it used to be 10 or 20 years ago. The Haryana Tourism Department had started the event as small affair on a regular basis in the year 1987. The convention of selecting a Theme State for bring particular focus to distinctly depict its cultural heritage began a few years later, which idea succeeded in tapping the native resources in performing arts, fine arts and crafts and natural heritage. Turn by turn many states have participated and performed well. A few years ago it was thought to invite the neighbouring countries to also display their wares of art and crafts. Many participated and the new generation got exposure to variety that was widened by their participation. Many new things got to be learnt by keen visitors. I appreciated the cotton fabrics, particularly the Mulmul sari created by weavers of Dacca and the woolen apparel from Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

For a couple of years my interest waned in the crafts fair as I had left no room in mind for absorption of repetitions. However, I thought of checking this time after a gap and was hugely disappointed to see that the fair-ground area has been enlarged by encroaching the adjacent mounds and by clearance of woods that used to provide shade and kept the temperature of the place moist and soothingly warm in these days of the year. This was the first point of disappointment and the second was the effect of abnormal crowding of space without giving a thought it were the empty spaces that absorbed people and added aesthetics to the locale. Otherwise, how could people move and observe wares displayed by artisans. ? The fair is open to public from 10 am in the morning and by 1 PM visiting people in large numbers fill the space at the Mela to such a level that it becomes a burden rather and experience of relaxation and joy.

The third point that pinched was the architecture of the stage at the Chaupal that provided platform to performing troupes of artists. It should be absolutely free from microphone stands, flood lights fixing and cables besides a strict check on the people that surround it. These encroachments become a camera-sore. I could click only 84 photographs and was fed up by 1 PM as large crowds had overtaken the clear and colourful view of the mela ground. Some respite could be available due the uneven terrain that has not been disturbed so far. If one is on the higher ground lots of stalls and moving people come to full view but by 2 PM the open spaces turn black and moving people block the view of the stalls thus marring all chances for shutter bugs. I came out of the Mela ground exactly at 1 PM because my space for filling the view in a camera was absolutely blocked by people. I have regrets for Haryana Tourism Department that they have no control over the entry. In fact the entry should be banned from 12 O’clock to 4 PM in the evening and then opened only at 4 and again stopped at 5 PM. But the business would be hurt. The crafts persons like crowds and the Govt. authorities are happy at the brisk sale of entry tickets so that both can earn huge money.


  1. Good pictorial update with critical suggestions.Thanks for your comments at science blog .