Noida: The Saras Ajeevika Mela is back. With it, returns a vibrant collection of clothes, jewellery, and handicrafts from several Indian states. It started on February 25, 2022, and will go on till March 13, 2022. The fair is organized by the Union Ministry of Rural Development and National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.
Jyoti Agarwal, from New Delhi, has come here for the first time. On asking her about what she likes the most she says, "I heard about the South Indian spices and I am looking to buy a good stock of these masalas. The handicraft items are also unique and appealing, planning to get them for friends and relatives."
Like every time, there is a wide range of handloom, saree and dress materials displaying artworks from different states of India. There is Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh, Mekhla Chadar of Assam, Cotton and silk from Bihar, Kosa saree from Chhattisgarh, Tasar silk and Cotton from Jharkhand, Chanderi and Bagh Print from Madhya Pradesh, Erie Products from Meghalaya, Katha Batik Print, Tant and Baluchari among others.
Moreover, people across Delhi NCR are visiting Saras Ajeevika Mela to enjoy some outstanding performances such as Rajasthani and Haryanvi folk dance performed by native artists.
Jasvinder Kaur has come to the fair from Mohali with a wonderful collection of Phulkari suits and dupattas. She has a colourful range starting from INR 800 to 4500. She says, "The phulkari art is the folk art of Punjab and our home business. One person works on one suit at a time and it takes 22 days to finish the phulkari work on a single dupatta."
She also explains, "Phulkari was essentially a product of domestic art started by women. The fabric on which Phulkari embroidery was done was handspun khaddar (a hand-loomed plain-weave cotton fabric). Cotton was grown throughout Punjab plains and after a series of simple processes, it was spun into yarn by the women on the charkha (spinning wheel). After making the yarn it was dyed by the lalari (dyer) and woven by the jullaha (weaver)."
Leela Devi from Radha Swami Rajivika Hast Kala, Barmer, Rajasthan is selling the vibrant range of Rajasthan’s appliqué. Her applique work is lightweight. The designs are eye-catching, colours and different shapes are arranged coherently to give a beautiful touch of appliqué work. Leela Devi says, “We have come here with a good stock of wall hangings, clothes, bedsheets, mattresses and other items. This work is done along with the embroidery for giving the additional touch of decoration."
Essentially a Rajasthani art, Mojari juttis have become widely popular in Delhi. Jayashankar has displayed his wide collection here. Rajeshwari Sisodia who was seen trying these juttis says, “I love Mojaries they are not only comfortable and versatile, but they can also glam up any outfit, The best part is they are available in every colour and design. From embellished to printed and the phulkari ones.”
Along with this, Pearl Jewellery from Andhra Pradesh in the form of handicraft jewellery and home decor products, Lahki Bangles, Madhubani Paintings and Sikki Crafts from Bihar, yoga mats from Assam, Patachitra Anpalmaliev Odisha and Telangana's leather bags are also portrayed.
Who can enjoy a Mela without indulging in some sweets and snacks?
The fair offers spices and condiments from South India known for their medicinal properties and fine flavour. A shop called 'Munnar valley herbs and Spices' is the perfect stop for coffee and spice lovers. Visitors can find cardamom, pepper, cloves, coconut oil, chilly powder, turmeric powder, Kerala chips, sambhar powder, garam masala, Kanni mango pickle, mace flower, coffee powder, Shatavari pickle, illumbikka pickle among other interesting spices here. Vivek Devdas, who runs the shop claims, “Anyone who tries our spices will come back looking for them. These spices are authentic and from our farmhouse in Munnar."
Adding to exotic attractions, women entrepreneurs were selling white honey. For people around, it was a curiosity. While talking, the woman told me that it takes a year to make this honey which is made of rice and jungle flowers. Moreover, dried apples, apple jam, apple cider vinegar, apple juice are also on the list. People enjoyed tasting apple jam and dried apple.
Kshitiz group, a business from Haryana were selling sweet and salty snacks made of millets which are considered superfoods by renowned nutritionists. Products like pearl millet laddoo, ragi chips, ragi laddoo, roasted dry fruits, oatmeal raisins cookies were available here. Pooja Sharma, says, “The speciality of our products is that everything is healthy and pure. Roasted sorghum namkeen, pearl millet laddoo, roasted wheat namkeen, roasted multigrain porridge, roasted wheat porridge, roasted pearl millet namkeen are some of our specialities."
Finally, we met Nagendra Nath Sinha, Ministry of Rural Development who was on the organizing committee of the Mela. He says, "We cannot envisage a completely self-reliant India without connecting with villages and small towns. The campaign of Saras Aajeevika Mela is a positive initiative. It is a platform for 8 crore women associated with Self Help Groups by the Ministry of Rural Development, Where they get information about marketing, printing packaging and social media to sell their products."
Covid protocols are being followed in the Saras Ajeevika Mela 2022. Wearing a mask is mandatory for everyone. Wearing of mask and social distancing is mandatory for all. Sanitiser machines are placed on regular distances. An ambulance is also on standby for any emergency services.