Consensus reached over holding century-old Poush Mela again in Santi Niketan: Visva-Bharati

The Poush Mela has been organised by the Visva Bharati since 1951 on the seventh day of Bengali month Poush.

The Visva Bharati Santiniketan will organise Poush Mela on a smaller scale this year. (Image: Official)The Visva Bharati Santiniketan will organise Poush Mela on a smaller scale this year. (Image: Official)

Press Trust of India | December 3, 2023 | 12:22 PM IST

KOLKATA: Visva Bharati has announced that though a consensus emerged over holding the heritage 'Poush Mela' in Santiniketan after a gap of a few years, the university decided to seek guidance from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on pollution control norms.

The fair, organised by the central university from 1951, is likely to be held on a smaller scale this year. The fair, held on the seventh day of Bengali month Poush which falls in late December, was first organised by 'Maharshi' Debendranath Tagore, father of Visva-Bharati founder Rabindranath Tagore, in 1894 to showcase the handicrafts, heritage and culture of Bengal, particularly Birbhum district.

It was not held in 2020 and ’21 due to the Covid-19 outbreak and again in 2022 because of logistical difficulties faced by the organisers. "The executive council of Visva Bharati met on the 1st of December 2023 to exclusively discuss the Poush Mela. Members....have arrived at a collective consensus in the meeting that Visva Bharati is positive and open towards the mela taking place this year," the institute said in a statement.

The council decided to seek fresh directives from the Tribunal so that the university can maintain the pollution control factors raised by the NGT earlier, it said. Pointing out the difficulty in organising the fair this time on a big scale, with over 3,000 stalls in every year till 2019, the statement said "The council has proposed contemplating the possibility of a manageable smaller mela for this year." A university official said on receipt of guidelines from the NGT, meetings will be held with the state administration to firm up the infrastructure blueprint and amenities available at the fair.

Also Read | Bidyut Chakraborty retires as Visva-Bharati VC after controversial tenure

Former Visva-Bharati officiating Vice Chancellor Sabujkali Sen said though it is good news, it will be difficult to organise the Poush Mela this time with about 20 days to go. "In our time, preparations for the fair would start from October. Now with the ground being fenced by the former VC and very little time left, I don't know how everything can be planned considering public safety. People will come to Poush Mela whether it is held on a big or small scale," she told PTI. The period of 2020-22, the phase when the fair could not be held, was plagued by run-ins between former VC Bidyut Chakraborty and the state government and local traders’ body over certain issues including the fencing of the mela ground. Earlier, the mela was not held in 1943 due to the Bengal famine and in 1946 because of the Great Calcutta Killings.

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