The silver jubilee celebration of the annual Surajkund mela, which is under way, has attracted visitors not just from every nook and cranny of the capital but also from far-away places like Jaipur, Chandigarh and Lucknow. Around 80,000 people visited the mela during the first five days. On Sunday, the numbers zoomed northwards to above one lakh.
The surge of visitors jammed the spacious parking area allotted for the popular event and the chairs in the performance areas were lost in the sea of humanity. Visitors thronged the stalls selling handicrafts, architectural replicas and watched in awe the throbbing dance performances by folk artists from states, including Orissa, Karnataka, Bengal, Jharkhand and Manipur.
"It was unbelievable. At first I thought the rush would end in an hour, but all through the day there were so many people here that it was hard to see the stall in the opposite row," said Anusuya, a stall owner in the Andhra Pradesh pavilion. Andhra Pradesh, which is the theme state this year, showcased its richness in crafts with intricately carved wooden panels, wall brackets with Yali designs, silk saris and traditional kalamkari paintings on display.
Stalls put up by Afghanistan, and Thaliand were a hit among people. "We bought four carpets and pashmina shawls from the mela," said Imran Ali, who had come from Rohini.
Some people, however, felt that the items being sold in the mela were highly priced. People gathered in large numbers at the performance areas where artists were performing folk dances. "Thanks to these cultural fiestas, we can teach our children and show them our ancient art and culture. Having lived outside my state most of my life, even I did not know what Chhau, a famous dance form from Jharkhand state, is. Today, I showed them to my children," said Piyush Sinha, the head of a Delhi-based marketing firm, who is from Jamshedpur.
With folk music resounding from every corner, drumbeats building rhythms and a splash of colours, the Surajkund fair reflected a complete taste of India. Mela officials said that more than 20,000 foreigners have already visited the fair.
The colour of the cultural fiesta was not limited to the Surajkund grounds only but even the traffic personnel were flaunting official dress topped with hats.