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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

THE COLOURS OF SURAJKUND


Thai floral art illuminating the atmosphere. Exquisite lamps from Turkey brightening up the skies, evocative of the hot air balloons from Cappadocia. A riot of colours, with a touch of ethnic, and indigenous décor from across the world laced with aroma of cuisines and traditional tunes from the hinterlands. The 33rd Surajkund International Crafts Mela (on till February 17th) offers a mix of such cultural delights, and an alternative marketing platform to artists from across the country and the world. Touted to be one of the largest cultural extravaganzas hosted by the Government of Haryana, the craft fair this year is hosting over twenty different countries.

The partner nation at the fair is Thailand with a dedicated pavilion exhibiting Thai craft, art, silks, herbal products, traditional clothing, and other souvenirs from the country.  All over the world Thai culture, food, the country’s hospitality, and tourism have played an imperative role toward cultural exchanges. Thailand and India celebrate this aspect through Buddhism, festivals such as ‘Namaste Thailand’ commemorated in 2018, languages like Sanskrit and Pali, and Thai mural paintings influenced by Buddhism, and stories from the Ramayana.

Such international marketing concepts are essential tools for strengthening soft diplomatic ties and cultural relations between countries via a citizen-centric approach augmenting rural and urban livelihoods. The government of India’s Act East policy has given a further boost to mutual exchanges between South East Asian countries and India. Celebrating multiple geographical identities like Madhubani from Bihar; Terracotta from Rajasthan; Bidri from Karnataka; Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh – artists from Thailand, Netherlands, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana, Turkey, Niger, and several other countries from across the world coexist at the fair, exhibiting a potpourri of multicultural specialties under one roof.
 
A national award winner, she along with other women practice making paddy jewellery which uses an excellent balance between professional finesse and traditional natural wealth. Paddy, which is rice with husk, is first treated with Araldite gum. After that, the grains are beautifully sewn in symmetric patterns. A melange of artificial beads, studs, nylon threads, acrylic colours, and other décor is used to weave lightweight earrings, necklaces, tops, and other items. Locally known as ‘Dhaan’ crafts, the process is complex and requires delicate handiwork. Upasi Bhuye 50 has been practicing paddy idol crafts for ten years. She along with women from her village weave beautiful figures of gods and goddesses, and miniature arts woven out of paddy straw, rice, colourful threads, and bamboo.