The annual ‘Virasat Mela’(heritage fair) aimed at showcasing the traditional Punjabi culture seems to be losing its sheen as less number of people turned up at the event on the second day of the three-day event on Saturday, despite it being the week-end.
The fair, which used to witness huge rush of people in the past not only from Bathinda but also from adjoining districts, has not evoked much enthusiasm this time. The mela venue was not flooded with visitors as it used to be in earlier years. The impact of low attendance was also reflected on the business of traders who installed their stalls, with most of them rued over poor sales this year compared to yesteryears.
Darshan Kumar, who has put up a book stall in the mela, said: “It’s different this year. The business is not as it used to be. This is because the less number of people are coming to see the event this time.”
Admitting the low turnout in the mela, chief spokesman Chamkaur Mann of the Malwa Heritage and Sabhyacharak Foundation that organises the event, said they were expecting good turnout on the last day of event as it was Sunday. “The turnout on Sunday will also increase due to the reason that a famous singer and other renowned artistes are coming to perform on that day,” he added.
“We used to hold the event in November or December, but due to widespread protests during these months last year, we decided not to organise the event at that time. Now since the examinations of school children are going on, so the parents are not allowing them to come. Hopefully on Sunday, more people will come to enjoy the festival”, he said.
Mansa deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma, Bathinda senior superintendent of police Swapan Sharma also visited the festival on Saturday. However, SAD leader and Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder failed to turn up even as he was supposed to attend the event as per the invitation card of the event.
On Friday night, under the direction of Raman Mittal, a theater team from Ropar presented two plays ‘Jawai and Rai Da Pahar’, written by Balwant Gargi. On Saturday, various folk artistes from adjoining states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan performed their cultural and folk dances and songs. Haryanvi artists performed Shiva Stuti and Phag dances and artistes from Himachal performed Kullu Naati. A singer from Rajasthan, Murli Rajasthani presented Punjabi songs with Rajasthani musical instruments.
Malwai gidha, Punjabi play ‘Dhiyan Paraya Dhan Nahi’ and Punjabi folk singing by child artistes and local singers were the other features of the day. A German-made huge tractor of 1979 model attracted the visitors to take snaps. A stall by an organization, ‘SMILE’, to provide material to take selfies at the festival is also attracting the young visitors.
Narinder Kumar, a local resident, said the festival had failed to attract people as it did in its earlier editions. He added, ”Many of the entertaining items, cultural and traditional exhibitions are missing this year. Even the exhibition of paintings to show the culture, history and traditions of Punjab is not there.”