(Santiniketan; Annually, 23rd – 28th December)
Poush Mela is a fair held annually in Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. It was first established in 1894 to commemorate the foundation anniversary of the Brahma temple in Santiniketan, which was established on December 21, 1891. The fair has been held continuously since 1894, with the exception of two years: 1943, due to the centenary of Devendranath Tagore’s initiation, and 1946 due to communal unrest. Poush Mela is a celebration of Bengali culture, featuring traditional music, dance, and theater, as well as stalls selling handicrafts and food. It also includes educational and intellectual discussions on various topics. The fair is held in the Purvapalli field of Santiniketan, and was previously held in the northern grounds of the Brahma Mandir (also known as the Glass Temple).
The high point of Shantiniketan’s festive calendar, Poush Mela fair brings together artists, musicians, artisans and poets from nearby villages and far-flung continents. You can spend time with the bauls (the wandering minstrels of Bengal) and listen to their songs about life and love, or roam stalls selling tribal crafts and clothing. Lip-smacking regional fare is served up at the food stalls. One of the main features of this fair is the performance of Bengali folk music (especially baul songs).
Poush Mela features around 1,500 stalls and attracts an average of 10,000 tourists over three days. However, on other important days such as Paush Utsav, Vasant Utsav, Rabindra Paksha, and New Year, the number of tourists visiting Santiniketan can reach 40,000 or more per day. Despite this influx of visitors, Santiniketan has a limited number of tourist lodgings with a capacity for only 1,650 people. Visitors may also rent local houses during festivals. The fair offers a variety of local printed textiles and products from the cottage industry.
Poush Mela begins on 7 Poush, around December 23rd. On the first day, the Vaitalik group sings songs and performs a procession around the ashram in the morning. Afterwards, worship takes place at Chhatimatla, followed by singing and participation in Uttarayan. There is no Vaikalik before worship at Chhatimatla.
On Other Days …
Bengali folk music (especially Baul songs) is organized at Paushmela. Folk music is accompanied by folk dance and folk sports. Cultural artefacts from all regions of West Bengal are exhibited in this fair. Students of Santiniketan organized dance, song and drama. Different kinds of events are organized every day. The last day of the fair is dedicated to the personalities of Santiniketan.
The Poush Mela officially lasts for three days, although vendors may stay until the end of the month.