Vasundhara Mela : Earth Festival
This is a unique festival organised regularly by Swadhina – a civil society organisation for women, for the past several years now. This is unique in many count. This event is organised by women of
When I reached Purulia bus stand it was a bit dark- quite early in the morning. The bus towards my destination was to start in half an hour, I was told. I located the bus and boarded, occupied a window seat. My destination was Sindri about 50 kilometres away. The bus goes through many rural forest areas and quite time consuming.
After about two hours I reached Sindri. I called my co-worker in Taladih village over my cell-phone, and, after a few a attempts could converse with him. I was told to wait at the Tapan Motorcycle Repair shop. It was a small place and was easy to locate the shop. Here the mechanic named Tapan was a nice person, offered me a cup of tea and asked me to wait. He also assured that , in case needed, he could drop me at the Taladih village, about 12 kilometres away.
In about 20 minutes time a motorcycle reached the shop and the rider took me to the Taladih village. This is the venue of the Vasundhara Mela – Earth Festival. The theme was the Relationship between Women and Mother Nature – including the role of women in agriculture. The programme was organised as a part of the women & children development progject riun there supported by TWA/EPO. The place indeed wore a festive look. There were rows of stalls. Stalls exhibiting various vegetables provided by the mother-earth, crops, lentils, spices, household implements, traditional musical instruments made of natural materials – not plastics and synthetics, and so on.
There was a photo exhibition on various birds and animals – including the extinct ones. The pictures of dinosaur and dodo bird drew many visitors ! There was a good photo exhibition on dresses of India show- casing the vibrant colours of dresses of various states of India – once again stressing that despite our varied culture we are One. The photo exhibition on fruits and vegetables was also a good crowd puller.
Then there was a competition among women on traditional rituals like “blowing conch shells” , “drawing welcome decoration on the ground” (alpana/rongoli/kollam).
There were competitions like “quiz on agriculture”, “instant talk on a social issue”. Of course, this being a tribal village, group songs and group dance were a natural feature. There were also exhibits on women’s contribution to agriculture, women and environment.
Then there were discussion on social issues affecting our mother earth like “cause and effect of drought, floods, deforestation etc,” for which I led the discussions. Laduram Mahato, our village vet took sessions on animal care and vaccination.
In all it was a three day of festivity, fun, learn and paying respect to our mother nature – Vasundhara. The dates were 26,27 and 28 January, 2018. - Rina Acharjee