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One of Bengal’s most looked forward to annual cultural event, Poush Mela, has been cancelled this year owing to COVID-19 restrictions. This decision was finalised during a high-level meeting with the executive council.
“We are not sure about getting the nod from the local administration in view of the COVID-19 situation. Most students, an integral part of Poush Mela, are not coming to the campus. Keeping all these factors in mind, we had to take this unpleasant decision for public health safety,” a member of Visva Bharati’s executive council said.
Visva-Bharati scraps famed Poush Mela, citing 'bitter experience' in enforcing NGT guidelines. Started in 1894, the art, handicraft and music festival in Shantiniketan is attended by thousands of people every year from India & abroad— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) July 4, 2020
A December-held fair organised at the Viswa-Bharati University in Santiniketan, the Poush Mela witnesses a massive influx of travellers hailing from all over the world. Defined by prayers, Rabindra sangeet, dance, poetry, and handicrafts, it offers visitors a glimpse into the state’s culture and heritage.
Its inception can be traced back to 1894, when Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s father first birthed the tradition. Viswa-Bharati then chaperoned the handicrafts, art, and music festival to its present-day importance from 1951 following the conclusion of its inaugural edition.
While the reason for the cancellation has been attributed to the pandemic, the Mela is fraught with a number of problems that could be contributing to its 2020 demise. Recently, it was pulled up by the National Green Tribunal for violating environmental norms, and fined by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board; this unfolded against the backdrop of harassment allegations against the University’s staff.
The fair’s namesake, Poush Utsav, however, will be held in the varsity campus for two days, and mimic Poush Mela in its inclusion of prayers and songs from the 23rd of December, 2020.
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