Holi mela at Sujanpur would be at the right time, just after our kids would be free from their annual examination in March and taking them to Sujanpur would be a very exciting excursion for whole of the family. We used to go in a bus and would roam around and would again come back in a over crowded bus. The discomfort of travelling in a overcrowded bus would be more or less over weighed by the excitement of having a day out at the Mela!
Now our kids have moved to bigger places but we, as an annual ritual, still go to Sujanpur mela, not as much to enjoy ourself as to relive the past where we all together would roam about and clamour at various stalls. My son would be overexcited by the stall of toys whereas my daughters would look longingly at all girly paraphernalia displayed in other stalls. We would buy all those little articles which I knew would be discarded as soon as we would reach home but the euphoria of our kids when they held water balloons, or reed toy trumpets in their small hands, even for an evening, would make up for everything else! I, too, would buy glass bangles of various hues and shades which would later decorate some corner of the home, but the joy of buying them made me so happy! Tired of roaming about the Mela ground we would buy hot syrupy Jalebis and crisp Pakoras and would sit at some place on the ground to relish them to the last bite! During late evening we would search for some other sundry items to buy and once I carried an earthen pitcher to keep water in an overcrowded bus much to the anger of KS! But such was the joy of spending a day in the Mela!
But sadly I found a great change overtaking the rural face of Sujanpur Holi mela! The great Shilp Bazaar was over crowded. The local villagers from the surroundings were busy buying foam stuffed cushions, pillows and quilts little knowing that they were carrying home curse of modernity! The plastic stalls overshadowed everything else by its bright articles on display and the earthen pots and articles were like poor cousins relegated to a back stage unattended and uncared for! People were clamouring for bright plastic baskets and hand made bamboo baskets lay in a corner displaying development being made by village artisans! Some development really! 🙂
Yes, something good that I observed was the stalls selling Sidhoos of Kullu and fermented Kachauri of Mandi. The best part was that the stalls were manned and managed by women where menfolk were helping in service of eatables! Real women empowerment!
But what had not changed was the crowd buying hot jalebis. Even I could not resist the temptation and bought Jalebis, hot enough to burn your mouth but inviting enough to take the risk. Hot syrupy Jalebis and crispy Pakoras were still giving a stiff competition to Rajasthani eatery stall which attracted people less by what they were offering more by the looks of the people manning the stalls who wore big Rajasthani turbans!
I searched for the glass bangle sellers and found a few stalls at a neglected corner of the Mela ground. The glasse bangles were displayed on the ground as women sit and ask the bangle seller to put bangles in their wrists. But there was not even a single woman in sight. The bangle seller was watching intently at prospective buyer which he, sadly, didn’t find even in me! The glass bangle sellers were sitting idly. Surprisingly there was no woman buyer even cursorily watching the myriad bangles! All women were making way to stalls in the Shilap Bazaar that had cheap shining crystal artificial jewelry perhaps made in China! But the items on display in these stalls really attracted huge crowds! Such simple objects like “Kaurri” were used wisely in making attractive show pieces, especially to be hung at the entrance to ward off evil! I wished some enterprising women outfit had thought of making beautiful objects using Kaurris and using local craft for it! But complacent as women today have become in the rural areas as they earn more working in MNERGA schemes who had time to devote to making such artifacts!
But what had not changed was how small kids were clasping the hands of their parents and eyeing greedily at toys, bangles and toy trumpets! The kids, who after some years would be lost in the maze of the big global village, were happy in their small world of little demands and protective arms of their parents.