Every winter sees the Surajkund grounds, nestled in the lap of the Aravalli hills in Faridabad India, transformed into a bubbling cauldron of festivity – with artisans, performers and people from all corners of India coming together to showcase their craft and talent. The colourful fortnight is a reminder of just how rich the culture and heritage of this country is.
Now in its 30th year, the organizers claim that it is the largest gathering of its kind in the world. Since 2013, the fair has been opened to the International community, with over twenty countries showcasing their crafts in the last edition. For a craft lover it is paradise.
And of course, we had to be there.
Carpets and shawls from Kashmir are displayed in this stall at the fair, against the backdrop of the Aravalli hills.
A dance performer dressed up as Krishna, waits for his turn to go up on stage.
Neha and Nikhil are siblings. They belong to a family of puppet makers from Sikkar in Rajasthan, where this fun craft is a family affair. The art of Kathputli or puppet making can be traced down generations in their family.
These fish are happily swaying in the winter breeze in Asif Milan’s stall. A kite maker from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, Asif has received the state award for his kite making skills. Now with little demand for kites, he is using his craft skills to make these beautiful decorative hangings and paper lamps.
These colourful Papier Mache bottles are made in Jharkhand. The origin of craft can be traced back to China, and was initially most prevalent in Kashmir and north India, under Mughal patronage. But now artisans from many parts of the country are practising the craft.
Bell metal figures of musicians crafted through the art of Dokra (lost wax casting technique). This art form has been practised in India for over four thousand years. One of the earliest known Dokra artefacts was excavated from the ruins of Mohenjo Daro.
Budhiyarin Bai displays her creations with pride. She is a recipient of the president’s award for her skills in Dokra art. From a small district in Chattisgarh, called Bastar, she picked up the art by watching her parents when she was still a little girl, and has been practicing the craft ever since.
An open space in the middle of the fair grounds is decorated with colourful cloth lanterns. Applique and patch work craft has made the small village of Pipli, in Orissa a well known craft hub of Eastern India.
Sunset over the Surajkund fair grounds.