Saras Mela, Empowering Rural Women and also Helping to Preserve Our Culture.

Since the last one week, SARAS Mela is going on in ‘Gyan Bhavan’. Thousands of Patnaites, as well as people from nearby cities, are visiting every day. Why is this mela so special? How is it different from other kinds of fair? In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of this mela and try to answer all of the questions mentioned above.
For the very first time in 2014, SARAS Mela was organised during India International Trade Fair (IITF) – 2014 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. An initiative was taken by the Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India, which aimed to provide a platform to the rural artisans to showcase their skills and products, and develop a market for themselves.
Through this initiative, these rural artisans get the opportunity to sell their product in major markets directly. In the process, they are also able to interact with the customer, understand their need, get reviews as well as make some money and a better life for themselves. A fun fact here is most of the participants in the mela are women.

Why is Saras mela so important?

If you see from a distance, this mela looks same as other normal fairs with a long row of stalls, sellers explaining the product to the customers and customers trying to understand the intensity of it. Some Golgappa shops outside the mela and small children crying for ice-cream holding their mother’s hand. But what is different here is the product, the people selling the products and the intention of the shop-keepers. They are not any ordinary businessman who wants to earn some money and get back home. These shopkeepers are the artisans who are here to tell the world that see how beautiful these works are, and we are the creators of this product. They want the world to notice that these works are not the testimonials of a machine proficiency, but these are 100% human-made products. Each of the stall has their own unique story.

“Money is not our priority, but we are here because we want our product their true recognition”, Sunaina Devi, a Madhubani painting artist said.

Stalls vary from Madhubani painting products, bamboo products, silk clothes, shudh-desi food items, idols, jewelry, kitchen utensils, showpieces and so on. These all products are made by these shopkeepers who even while selling the product, are investing their time in creating more products. Pooja Kumari is merely an 18-year-old girl, who creates Madhubani painted scarfs while sitting in the shop while her mother makes sure that they have enough sale of their product. Some of these women are as old as 75, but it is hard to believe from the passion that they have for their skills. Besides this, the platform is also helping in keeping alive our culture and tradition. For example; Madhubani Painting was losing its existence, but because of SARAS, people are liking it again, they are buying it and making it a part of their life.
SARAS Mela is now being organised in every Indian state, one by one. Now, it’s going on in Patna, Gyan Bhavan. After that, it will be organised in New Delhi, and the cycle continues. The artisans don’t have to pay a single penny, transportation, accommodation, and all other kinds of expenses will be taken care of by the government. They get a TA of ₹200 every day.
Initiatives like this are must if we are expecting a development form the core as well as want to save our culture.

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