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পৌষ মেলা

Poush is the 9th month of the Bengali calendar.
It is the first month of Winter Season.

Poush Mela is an annual fair that takes place in Shantiniketan.
The fair starts on the 7th day of Poush for the full 3 days.

It is been said that,
Devendranath Tagore with twenty followers accepted the Brahmo creed from
Ram Chandra Vidyabagish on 21 December 1843 (7 Poush 1250 according to the Bengali calendar). This was the basis of Poush Utsav (the Festival of Poush) at Santiniketan.

The fair is organised every year in a field in Purbapalli.
People from all over the world comes here to attend the fair.

The fair is a meeting ground of Urban People and Rural Folk.


This was my first time that I was attending this fair.
I was so overwhelmed to see the number of stalls and so much talent of handwork.

There was a simple flute-maker to a big furniture manufacturer.

I took my train from Howrah and on the journey itself, I noticed the
enthusiasm of people to attend this fair.

As, we entered the field, I got to eat
the famous ‘Bhapa Pitha’.

These are made from Rice Flour, Coconut and Jaggery.


Once filled with Jaggery, they put them on the steam and just in few seconds,
you are all set for this sweet delicacy.


With the sweet beginning, I was all set for the inside look of the fair.

The Flute Maker

I am a Brass Lover.
I make jewellery from Brass and mostly wear the same.

I got my lovely jewellery there also at a very reasonable price.


And then there was some white metal jewellery also.


With time, the fair has become commercialized.
Big people like Aircel, Idea, Hyundai and RBI etc are taking up the huge stalls
and the poor hardworking Artisans are sitting on the ground
in cold weather.



The Fair was started with the motive
of promoting Artisans and it should continue with the same motive,
rather than giving space to these big people.

I met some really interesting artisans on my walk
around the fair.

There were painters, selling the prints and Tote Bags.
I bought them for my collection.



The traditional form of paintings were also displayed there.

The Artist

I had conversations with the famous Dhokra sellers in the fair.


I shall be writing about this form of craft in my upcoming post.


There was pottery in every form.
Be it flowers, lamps, hanging dolls, holders and showpieces.


Shantiniketan Dolls


My eyes were just smiling every time I looked up to a new stall with some
different art that I could never have seen in Urban cities.





Swandesh (Sweets) Moulds
Hand Embroidered Clutches

One of the most distinguished feature of this fair
is the performances by traditional Baul musicians.

Ektara : The musical instrument of a Baul Singer

They stay in the field only under their tents for 3 days.
They sing, dance and entertain people.




I can’t understand Bengali, but
as they say ‘Music doesn’t have a language’
I simply loved this experience.







Visva Bharati, is the publishing department of the University in Shantiniketan.


They had their stalls in the fair.
I got to see some rare books like
‘Faces and Places of Visva Bharati by Shambhu Shaha’

This photo-book is a quick introduction to the history
of Shantiniketan.
My friend Nevine’s Great Grandfather used to know Rabindranath Tagore
and that’s how she introduced this book to me.

Rabindranath Tagore with Khan Bahadur Sir Azizul Haque (Nevine’s Great Grandfather :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azizul_Haque_%28educator%29)
Shantiniketan in Early years
Poush Mela in Early Years
Tagore with Mahatama Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi

There were books in Bengali, written by Tagore and other writers.



The photo-books were also available in the fair.



Last but the least, The fair had food for every person.
From snacks to full meal, everything was available there.



Everybody who has an interest in Cultural activities and handicrafts of our country,
should visit this fair and support the artisan who are doing this fabulous work.

Poush Mela, happens every year in December for 3-4 days.
Keep checking the web for the dates in 2015
and freeze your dates for the traditional fun!

May be, we can catch up together this year 😀



Kala Bhavan

It took me a long time to decide from where I should start this post.

My last visit to Shantiniketan has changed my
point of view of looking at an Artist.

I have so much respect for each one of them whether
he is a small flute-maker or a big painter.

My small attempt here to promote handicrafts and artists in our country
makes me feel part of it 🙂

Shantiniketan is known for giving us
legends like Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen, Somnath Hore
KG Subramanyan, Satyajit Ray and many more.

It was my biggest fortune that
I got to visit Kala Bhavan that evening.

I had only two days in the town
but after knowing about Kala Bhavan, I just couldn’t stop myself
from going there.
Once again, Nevine was my company and the person who could take me inside the premises.
I can’t thank her enough.

Kala Bhavan, is considered one of the best Art Institution in the World.
Established by Rabindranath Tagore, this college is the leading example of our cultural history.

There are many historically important buildings at Kala Bhawan.


wdwThe Design Department exterior has been painted entirely in black and white by renowned artist K.G. Subramanyan and his students.
With the artist’s depiction of birds and animals, making it a most striking edifice as well as a very important structure indeed.

He painted this house in 2010-11 : ‘Rarh


K. G. Subramanyan  is one of the pioneers of Indian modern art.
The turning point of his life, as an artist, came when he visited Shantiniketan to study in
Kala Bhavan, the art faculty of Visva Bharati University, in the year 1944.

He was the part of Quit India Movement with Gandhi ji and went to prison also.
In 1980, Subramanyan went back to Shantiniketan to teach in his alma mater Kala Bhavan,
Visva Bharati University, in his capacity as a professor in painting,
which he continued till he retired in 1989.
In the same year he was made a Professor Emeritus of Visva Bharati.SomnathHore_25521

There are also a number of murals in relief by the artist cum sculptor Somnath Hore,
which lie open to the elements.
Somnath Hore was an Bengali sculptor and printmaker.
Hore learned the methods and nuances of printmaking, mainly lithography and intaglio, at the Government College of Art and Craft in Calcutta.
Hore invented and developed various printmaking techniques of his own, including his famous pulp-print technique, which he used in the critically acclaimed
Wounds series of prints.

Somnath Hore 1 webview
Somnath Hore has confessed his obsession with human suffering with this chosen words, and continues ‘Wounds is what I saw everywhere around me. A scarred tree, a road gauged by a truck tyre, a man knifed for no visible or rational reason. A new concept was born. The object was eliminated, only wounds remained.’

You can read more on this series on
Project 88

Following the death of the artist in 2006,
Gopal Krishna Gandhi wrote in the newspaper Telegraph,
“Somnath Hore was more than an artist.
He was a witness of the human drama but a witness with a skill that translated
his witnessing into art.
In an age when secularism, socialism and peace can be seen- or rubbished- as shibboleths,
he knew them to be vital needs.
In times when art can become a play-thing of drawing rooms and auction halls, he kept it close to its springs-his human sensibility.”

He is prominently represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.

Last but the least, I was honoured to meet
Sir Ajit Seal 
there that evening.

He is the student of revered printmaker Somnath Hore.

In the cold evening, he was working in his office waiting for us.
He was so generous to allow me to take pictures
in the printmaking department.


The Limestone used in Lithography
The Prints Tray
This is how the print looks

Ajit Seal, known for the velvety softness of his lithographic prints,
the respected Shantiniketan educator keeps a low profile in India’s more commercially
orientated art environments, though his works are quietly handled by a number of galleries
in India and abroad.

I got to see one of his work from the very first stage to the final print.

ajit seal 1
The Sketch
ajit seal 2
The Drawing
ajit seal 4
The Final Print with the Artist himself

At present, Mr. Seal is the faculty member of the Graphic Department, Kala Bhavan.
He lives in Shantiniketan only.

He showed us more of his work, and allowed me to take pictures.





This Department is pretty old and
I was so overwhelmed to see the old printing machines.

First Room of the Department



The Colors and Dyes
Etching Machine
The View
Old Lockers

He also showed us some prints from the students, studying there.
Don’t forget, these are all hand done.






Do you know, what was the best part?
He gifted me one of the beautiful Etching print from the collection 😀

For Me, Artist : Kim

I’m going to have this framed for my Workshop.

You can read more about this department here
A Brief History of Printmaking

This experience of mine was just incomparable to
any other travel.
Got to learn so much and realized how much more I have to learn.


I hope you enjoyed this small part of my journey in Shantiniketan!

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