The 15-day-long “Surajkund Crafts Mela-2010” showcasing the country’s rich handloom and handicrafts will be inaugurated by Vice-President Hamid Ansari this Monday.

While Rajasthan is the theme State this year, Tajikistan is the partner country. Besides States and Union Territories, Thailand, Egypt, Afghanistan and some South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries are also participating in the mela.

“The 24th edition of the Surajkund Crafts Mela will once again promote rich Indian art, culture, music and folk art at this beautiful place that was selected by the Tomar kings in the 10 Century A.D. as their home. We have made an attempt to bring alive the look of that bygone era. The mela would be a bonanza for foreign and domestic tourists in educating themselves about the diversity of Hindustani tradition and culture. They can also soak in the vibrant ambience created typically to represent the ethos of rural India in miniature,” said Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee at a press conference on Sunday.

Informing that the mela was fast becoming a mega event of international significance, Mr. Banerjee said a high-level team comprising academicians from Sri Lanka would visit the mela to study how the event was conducted with a view to replicate it in their island country.

Stating that the entire venue would radiate with the flavour of Rajasthan be it colour, cuisine and customs during the fortnight-long event, Rajasthan Principal Secretary Usha Sharma said: “We have been chosen as the theme State after a long time. The Shekhawati gate is going to be the main centre of attraction. Then we have Chowkidhani, crafts, porcelain, mirror work, painting. We will showcase block printing and textiles from our State. For food connoisseurs there would be our traditional dal bati choorma.”

Tajikistan Ambassador Saidbeg Saidov said: “Last year President Pratibha Patil visited our country and rendered poetry in our mother tongue. This gesture was applauded by our people and now our country has been invited to participate in the Surajkund Crafts Mela. We will showcase our diverse handicrafts and present our traditional dances. Both Hindustan and Tajikistan share a common heritage and we are keen to establish cultural relations with your country.”

More than 400 craftsmen sponsored by the Development Commissioners Handicrafts and Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, Rajasthan Government and other organisations have set up their stalls at the exhibition-cum-sale counters.

The venue will be flooded with over 200 performers of folk dance, drama and other skills including Octave dance group from the North East, folk dances including Kaal Belia (Rajasthan), Siddi Goma (Gujarat), Brij Ki Holi and Charkula (U.P.), besides Tajik dances and Egyptian Tannoura dance.

The main items on display include folk painting, paper machie items, terracotta, iron craft, bamboo and cane crafts, dhokra crafts, Patola saris, Chanderi saris, Sambalpur saris and Pashmina shawls.

The number of visitors that stood at over seven lakh last year is expected to increase substantially this time round.