Monday, November 10, 2008

Fair and Lovely : The Mela



The Mela arrives in Banarhat town every October, in time for Durga Puja. This travelling fair has around four hundred and fifty people moving with it. Before Diwali, the Mela moves east to the town of Hamiltonganj. Its next stop is the Raas Mela in Cooch Behar. In Banarhat, the Mela is located in the extensive grounds of the Bengali High School. The area is roughly the size of two football fields!

The Mela includes a Meena Bazaar, which features stalls selling pickles and preserves, bangles and trinkets, toys, ceramics and household stuff like plastic containers, cast-iron garden and kitchen tools, handbags and carrybags. There were more than a hundred and fifty stalls there this year. It is the biggest attraction in the region for tea garden workers and their families, and for the people who live in small towns nearby.


This youngster barely noticed that I was taking his picture - he was lost in his own world. All these pictures were taken with my husband's Sony Ericsson phone. In all the excitement of going to the Mela, I forgot to pick up my camera. No regrets, though. The phone camera doesn't have a flash, and so all the pictures are lit with whatever light there was - sometimes bright and white, sometimes yellow.


This young man above insisted on seeing his picture, and said he liked it!


What an array of munchies. They were absolutely delicious.


I loved the long-handled spoon which this man used to make his 'special mixture'.


The umbrella repair man is hard at work! These little figurines are made of clay. They are so realistic and so colourful. I noticed my face in the picture, later - reflected in a mirror while I was clicking!


Mouthwatering. Bamboo shoots, limes, mangoes, berries like 'ber' and 'karaunda', chillies, garlic and ginger - hot pickles, sweet pickles and tangy chutneys - these boys had everything in their stall. All these pickles, I was told, are made in village homes. The buyers include customers like us who buy small quantities, as well as firms who buy in bulk, then bottle and market them.


The little boy was so happy he was being photographed. On my second visit, he greeted me with a delighted, 'Oye!'


The gentleman above is a Lifestyle Guru of sorts. A real fairground character, he seemed to exercise some power over us all - his patter had us standing at his stall for so long. He had crystals, magnets, feng shui charms, and gizmos to massage aching limbs.


A stall that actually admits to imitation!



The Mela had several food stalls, a number of rides and games, and a dance show by performers dancing to Bollywood music, which I heard was a huge hit!




This Magic Show tent is a regular feature. It used to be a great favourite when the girls were little. The magician not only sells you tricks, he takes you into a little partitioned section of his tent, and teaches you how they're done!



Chief organiser Barun Babu - ever smiling!

My WorldTuesday showcases many worlds. See them here.

22 comments:

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

I love this post. The pictures carry that feeling of joie de vivre of the mela/fair in the night. The munchies look delicious - and the long handled spoon looks very useful. Yes, I spotted you in the mirror.
I haven not seen a single umbrella repair man in real life in the last three years. Great fair, great post.

Anonymous said...

Awesome to see Ganguly has already found his next calling.

dot said...

That is the most interesting fair I've ever heard of. Great pictures too. I really enjoyed your post!

Louise said...

A very nice My World post. The world is so big and so different. I love seeing things from other places that I may never have a chance to see otherwise. Thank you for sharing!

char72 said...

I was just browsing around on the internet and happened upon your blog. I have enjoyed it because I spent three weeks in India in 1999. We visited the Kulpahar Kids Home in Kulpahar. I've been sharing my experiences and pictures from there on my blogs. India is such a unique country.
Charlotte (from America)

fishing guy said...

Gardenia: What a neatpost showing your part of the world. Everything is so different in India.

soulbrush said...

these photos are marvellous. thanks for a glimpse into your world.

Bobbie in Hawaii said...

Thank you so much for taking us along with you to the Mela. I love those little clay figures.

Pretty Me!! said...

This is what i really love about our country !!! such colors and the festive spirits ... thanks for this post .. made me miss my childhood days of fairs and rides !!

Sunita said...

What a fun day you obviously had! I love that sense of excitement that's packed into your post.

alicesg said...

Very interesting photos of street scenes.

manohar said...

maam..It was so great to see those mela on the Net ..I actually relived my childhood and the days i left behind...!! thanks a lot for such lovely coverage..Awesome ..!!

Rada said...

This kind of post makes you feel very humble: there is always another India, timeless, eternal, that we either ignore or simply pass by...

Yes and your photos made me feel I was actually in the mela!

Thank You.

Kat said...

Mela covered so well... Thanks to you and Sony Ericcson ..!!!

Umbrella repair man has truly vanished from the surface of the earth. No wonder they've started keeping statues for him!!!

The Magic show looks so inviting.
Anyway, you've cast your spell on all readers :)))))

SLW said...

So wonderful and vibrant! The mela looks very exciting, but I read on, and especially liked the Rangoli. Thanks for sharing your world...

Lakshmi said...

lovely post...melas are so lively and colourful and your pictures show the spirit so well..

Kamini said...

Just fascinating. Your pictures and commentary transported me to another world. You really captured all the fun and life of the mela.

Lakshmi Bharadwaj said...

wow, sounds like you had a lot of fun at the mela!! You got me all excited! I love the spirit of the mela...and it has been depicted so well through your post. I loved the clay figure of the umbrella man...looks so real!

flowergirl said...

The signboards are too much!! Wasnt there a kili joshiyar and a palmist as well? Or is that only down south.

"Kat" is right, the "kodai repair" man seems to have vanished - I looked for him in vain last monsoon, and the local cobbler laughed and said I could get a made-in-China umbrella for the price of the repair!!!

kallu said...

Gowri, I love those names you start of the post with - the town of Hamiltonganj- it waits to roll off the tongue -Banarhat, Cooch Behar. What a different world.
And what a fantastic mela. Beats all our govt organised ones. With your pics and write -up, one feels one missed a great deal. So what did you eat in all that? down south everyone eats huge appalams sprinkled with chillipowder . you might not touch it at home, but at the fair its irresistible. For me, cotton candy tops the list.

Gardenia said...

What did we eat? - see the delicious crunchy munchies in colourful heaps? We got little paper packets of a mixture of them all, and muched happily throughout!
(Appalam and chilli powder sounds so tempting!)

Sandeep said...

Dear Madam,
I read many of your post,I love them,it remind my old days of YUle Agro farm,next to your TE.I enjoyed this fair for many year when I stayed in YAF.I visited this fare every year.Sandeep Bhargava,CEO OneCert Asia.www.onecertasia.in