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.