Poush Mela 2023
The Poush Mela is an annual festival and fair in Santiniketan in West Bengal. It marks the beginning of the harvest season and starts on the 7th day of the Poush month. The fair officially lasts three days, though, since 2017, it has been extended unofficially for six days owing to its popularity.
The key highlights of the fair include the vibrant and colourful live performances based on Bengali folk music, including Kobigan, kirtan and baul, and a celebration of Bengali culture with food, sermons, and history celebrated throughout the festival.
The festival lasts around three days officially but six unofficially. The 21st to the 23rd of December yearly festival commences on different dates, but most likely around 21st to the 23rd of December every year.
Importance of Poush Mela 2023
The Poush Mela is a celebrated occasion commemorating Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, with twelve others adopted by the Brahmo. The creed was bestowed upon him and the followers from Ram Chandra Vidyabagish on the 21st of December 1843, and this is the basis of the Poush celebration. The mela is a remembrance of that day and is on the 7th day of the Poush month. It amalgamates various micro-cultures and traditions that are prevalent in West Bengal.
Poush Mela 2023 in Kolkata, West Bengal
The Poush Mela is generally inaugurated on the 7 Poush. It begins at dawn when the town of Shantiniketan wakes up to the traditional Indian wind instrument of shehnai. The first people to enter the mela are the Vaitalik group, who walk around the hermitage singing songs. This is followed by a big prayer meeting at the Chhatimala, after which the congregation renders Uttarayan songs.
The Mela is primarily characterised by the many live Bengali folk music performances, especially the traditional form of Baul music. This extends to singing, dancing and also tribal sports that are watched by thousands of Bengalis. It offers an excellent insight into the vast cultural heritage of the state. The Santiniketan Poush Mela offers different activities each day, with the last one purely dedicated to those related to Shantiniketan.
Around 1,500 people participate in the fair, setting up stalls and performing. The total number of tourists at the Poush Sankranti Mela is about 10,000. The official government stat pegs the number at around 3,500 visiting per day. Still, major festivals like the Rabindra Paksha, Basanta Utsav, Pous Utsav and Naba Barsha see an influx of approximately 40,000 people daily. Eighty-five lodges can accommodate around 1,650 people. The rooms can be rented for a few days too.
Highlights of Poush Mela 2023, Kolkata
West Bengal's tradition and history cannot be stated without emphasising their traditional Baul music or Baul Gaan, their traditional folk music. The state is home to a large community of Baul singers identified by the indigenous musical instrument of Ektara. The Mela is also a famous stage for performing, and they sing about various aspects of daily life, with the overall feel being spiritual.
- Live Graffiti:
The alleys and lanes of Santiniketan come alive with the mini graffiti display at the Mela. The Mela has graffiti as live art that comes alive on the faces of small kids who roam around the fairground. Their motley guise and painted faces add a touch of colour to the fair, and they disguise themselves as princes, priests and gods to entertain the many visitors of the Mela.
2. Native Culture:
The mela is a fantastic time for Shantiniketan's people and the neighbouring villages. The locals participate in many rural games that make the air and atmosphere more vibrant and lovely. The joy and exuberance that fills their daily lives will help you feel happy, and you can learn a lot about rural culture and simple lifestyles.
3. Handicraft Stores:
Rural handicrafts are a big part of Bengal's artistic heritage. The handicrafts stores consist of various handcrafted art that includes terracotta. In addition, the state is a premier exporter of home decor items of jute, cane and terracotta that can be shopped for in the Mela. The fairground is also an excellent marketplace for local craftsmen and artisans to sell their products and merchandise.
4. Local Sweets:
Bengal is a state known for its amazing sweetmeats, and the fairground is home to a culinary playground with delicious stalls selling decadent sweetmeats in various rows. The sweetmeat sellers gather together to treat visitors to delicacies, and it's the perfect spot if you're a foodie because this fare isn't available outside of the state. The Poush Mela stall booking can be arranged for those interested by contacting their official website.
How to reach Santiniketan
Multiple modes of transport can easily access Santiniketan, and you can choose the one that suits your budget and access it easily. The nearest airport is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport, in Kolkata's capital city. The nearest railway station to Santiniketan is the Bolpur Railway station, situated around 2 km from the town. It is connected to Kolkata junction with daily trains.
Santiniketan can easily connect to Kolkata with roads that are a joy to drive in as they're well-maintained. Both private and state transport is available, and you can book them online with redBus.
Plan your trip to one of India's most vibrant and unique festivals and make your Poush Mela 2023 debut this year!