Uncertainty looms over Visva Bharati hosting 'Poush Mela'

Uncertainty looms over Visva Bharati hosting Poush Mela

KOLKATA: The possibility of holding the famed Poush Mela' by Visva-Bharati university in Santiniketan seems remote as the Central university is yet to come up with an announcement on the issue while a local organisation has decided to hold a fair around the same time in the last week of December.

The annual Poush Mela' which dates back to 1894 had not been held only thrice due to the Bengal famine in 1943, the Great Calcutta Killings of 1968, and the COVID-19 situation last year.

Rabindranath Tagore's father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore had first organised the Poush Mela' in 1894 and Visva-Bharati, the university founded by his illustrious son, started organising it from 1951. The event which attracts lakhs of enthusiasts to Santiniketan is a handicraft, handloom, art and music festival held in the Bengali month of Poush', usually December end.

A Visva-Bharati official said Wednesday the Central university had no plans as yet to hold the fair, usually beginning from December 23 every year, due to the COVID-19 situation.

"We have no plans to organise the Poush Mela' this year due to the COVID-19 situation and the threat posed by the Omicron variant. We have nothing to say if any other organisation hosts a fair bearing the same name in Santiniketan or Bolpur area. The district administration will take the call. But the Visva-Bharati will not be a party to that in any way," he said.

The official said the university will not set up stalls even if any other fair is organised As demands for the fair grew among local citizens, including local traders, an organisation called Bangla Sanskriti Manch' decided to hold an alternative fair on the same day at another place - not at the original Purba Pally ground but on a tract of land next to Dak Bungalow More.

President of Bangla Sanskriti Manch Samirul Islam said: "We are upset that Visva-Bharati is backing out from the responsibility of organising the Poush Mela' which is linked with the memory of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore."

"We have taken the initiative of organising the fair for five days with the support of Bolpur Byabasayee Samity," he added.

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