Craftsmen from India will vie with artisans from nearly a dozen countries as the popular Surajkund fair, beginning on the outskirts of the Indian capital on February 1, adds a new chapter to its colourful history.
Getting into an international mode from this year, the crafts fair at Surajkund in Haryana's Faridabad district will have participation from Egypt, Thailand and Brazil.
Also participating in the annual event, held during Feb 1-15, will be all SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, besides host India.
"It will be a very special event with the participation of all these countries. The fair was already very popular among the masses, but with all these countries agreeing to participate this time, it would become an international affair from this year onwards," Haryana's Minister of State for Tourism and Forests Kiran Chaudhary said here.
President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the fair.
Chaudhary said at least 10 stalls of craftsmen from Egypt would exhibit various artefacts, including statues, from the ancient country.
A folk troupe comprising 12 Egyptian artists will perform during the inauguration ceremony. They will stage performances later too.
The food court at the fair will have Egyptian cuisine for gourmet enthusiasts.
Among the Indian states participating this year, Madhya Pradesh has been selected as the theme state.
Chaudhary said craftsmen from states will showcase skilfully woven silk and cotton blended saris, block printed fabrics, stuffed leather toys, floor coverings, folk paintings, bamboo, cane, jute, woodcraft, stone craft, iron-craft, metal-craft, terra-cotta, papier mache, zari work (gold thread embroidery), ornaments, dolls and many more hand-crafted products.
Since its modest beginning in 1981, the Surajkund crafts fair has become a popular event over the years. International acknowledgement has come to the events with scores of foreigners coming to see the best of traditional Indian craftsmen display their skills and art.
Chaudhary said the fair was now on the itinerary of MICE (Meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) tourism circuit.
Surajkund - literally meaning the pond of the sun god - owes its name to an ancient amphitheatre sun pool, dating back to the 10th century. It was built by king Suraj Pal, a follower of the sun god. The place is located in the Aravalli mountain range.