The international flavour at the annual Surajkund crafts mela is growing stronger with every passing year. This year, organisers Haryana Tourism said, over 23 countries have put up their stalls at one of the biggest crafts fair in the world.
Upgraded to a global level in 2013 and rechristened as the Surajkund International Crafts Mela, the fair, which is in its 30th year, got a thumbs-up from visitors in the country and overseas.
Of the 23 countries participating in the fair, Japan has been selected as the focus country this year. Taiko players from Japan are at the centre of attraction. A Japanese giant kite with the country’s folk tale hero, Momotarou, painted on it has inquisitive visitors stopping by to hear the story.
Other major attractions include the Tunisian stall selling traditional bags priced Rs 400 and Rs 800. Turkmenistan, on the other hand, offers interesting vases with faces painted on them, and stone, ceramic, silver and gold jewellery ranging from Rs 60-Rs 1.6 lakh.
The Congo stall has turned many heads with a wide display of tribal masks, caps, statues and costumes ranging between Rs 100 and Rs 3,000.
Those looking for affordable souvenirs, Kyrgyzstan is the go-to stall. Brooches starting at Rs 50 and woollen shoes for Rs 500 are the best sellers at the stall.
Nature lovers can head to the Thailand stall that has various exotic flowers, ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 500, to offer. The stall also offers innovative lamps starting at Rs 350.
Most of these international stalls accept US dollars.
“Each year, we try to get more countries to set up stalls. This not only gives them the opportunity to promote their culture, but also India’s tourism. Last year, we had 18 international countries participating in the fair. This year, we managed to add five more,” Munish Kapoor, IT in-charge of Haryana Tourism, said.
While the international stalls seem to be the main attraction this year, organisers have chosen Telangana, India’s newest addition, as the theme state.
This is an opportunity for the newly carved state to promote its handicrafts, handlooms, performing arts, artifacts, cuisine and tourist potential to a vast cross-section of people. The state’s stall has Pochampally, Narayenpet silk, Siddipet and handcrafted Gadwal sarees on sale.
Amid the grandeur, home state Haryana has managed to showcase its rustic side at its Apna Ghar. The Dharohar Musuem of Kurukshetra University has the ‘biggest hookah in the world’ on display. Oversized urns, utensils, radios, mannequins of women cooking on a hearth and churning milk, and men sitting on a charpoy with a hookah give visitors a glimpse into Haryana’s rural life.
The state has also set up a prison cell stall that exhibit paintings, murals, chocolates, glass stands, jute bags, pen stands and flower pots made by prisoners from district jails of Jind, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Kurukshetra, Narnaul, Sirsa and Rohtak.