Long years have passed by; its music was stilled. "Mela Charkhe Da" on Thursday brought the rattle and whirr of the cottage machinery back.
Majha Punjabi Saath (MPS) and Baba Pallaha Sports Club together organised the 11th edition of the annual event at Sant Sar Public School, Butala, as platform for hundreds of village women to showcase their talent and introduce visitors to their culture and roots. Charkhas (traditional spinning wheels), put on stage in the hands of six grandmothers to test their spinning skills in a competition, stole the show.
For many, it was their first opportunity to see the bygone-era wooden yarning device in action, besides a moment to capture in cameras. The delight of the young women came alive as they studied the dying tradition. "Charkha is a jewel of our culture and heritage that has taken a back seat in the modern era," said contestant Surinder Kaur (75), adding: "In villages, too, it is a rare sight now but I am happy for the people who have preserved it with respect as a token of yesteryears."
Another participant, Mohinder Kaur (80), found it good that each year the event was bringing more young people closer to their culture. "Many of us participate each year to relive the old days when spinning charkha was an everyday activity," she said.
Young German spectator Janina saw charkha for the first time in life. "Lucky I was in the holy city and got to know about this mela; and thought I should make use of the opportunity," she said, adding that the fair had helped her understand Punjabi culture.
Folk dances giddha and jaaggo, traditional songs, and skits on social issues such as dowry, female foeticide and drugs were other events. "Each year, we have more participants," said MPS head Swaran Kaur Bal, who started the event. She is a retired government teacher and a Punjabi writer, who is happy to have made village women confident and enthusiastic about their culture. "Through this annual event, we aim at raising the status of women in society," she said.
All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society president Dr Inderjit Kaur, besides music composer, singer and theatre artiste Harinder Sohal were honoured this year for their contributions to society. "A society not in touch with its history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots," Dr Inderjit Kaur said in her address.
The gathering included writers, poets and social activists. The event souvenir carrying articles on Punjabi culture and social issues was released at the end.