Sad News for Poush Mela :
After a lot of humdrums regarding the covid situation it’s finally decided that the Shantiniketan Poush mela will remain suspended this year. Keeping in mind the tradition of the land the authority will let the Poush-utsab (precisely, the festival) remain as it is other years. Though it was decided earlier that the Poush-mela will be celebrated following the government guidelines of masking and social distancing, but the graph may increase abruptly after the post puja situation,as suspected. And the fear turned to decision for the Visva-Bharati authority.
The court members of Visva-Bharati hold a virtual meeting and seventy out of ninety members including the vice chancellor Vidyut Chakraborty, MP Sudip Bandopadhyay, Swapan Dasgupta and the former judge Sakharam Singh were present the day. The maximum number of responses reached negativity when the question regarding the occurrence of Poush-Mela raised. But a limited number of people can participate in the Poush-fest under the strict health regulations, as declared.
Bolpur Shantiniketan, the vast eternal ground of mesmerizing cultural and literally ideas is also noteworthy for another of it’s attraction, Poush-mela. Every year the ninth month of Bengali calendar, Poush appears in a celebratory mood with some tasty rituals including pithe-puli-patisaptas. Alongwith all these the place of Tagore triumphs itself in glory and grandeur with the rhythm of Poush-mela followed by the Poush-festival.
Every year on the 7th of Poush the Upasana ground under the Chhatim tree, the Baitalik, the Sradh-gathering of Ashramees, Cristotsav; the celebration of 25th December inside the Glass temple (kachmandir) all comes under this ceremony. According to the professor of Bengali of Visva-Bharati, Manabendra Mukhopadhyay, “Devendranath Tagore took his ‘diksha’ to Brahma Dharm on this day in the year of 1843 and in 1845 Goriti Bagan from Kolkata organises a Mela on his will. But that failed to keep it’s continuity.” He also informed that following the trust-deed of 1888 by Maharshi, his trustees shifted the Mela to Shantiniketan and on 7th Poush of 1991 they set up a Upashana temple. And starting from that day the festival is fluid till the date.
Yes, it is a period of crisis for the whole world and innumerable examples of cancellations and postponements are there where gatherings are mostly probable. But for Bolpur Shantiniketan, this was really a matter of grief as they could not celebrate the festival of colours, the Bastontotshav earlier.Though this was not the first time that the Poush-mela was dismissed. The great Hunger of 1943 ( also that was the centenary year of Maharshi) and the sociological turmoil of 1946 had discarded the Mela for two times but the festival was not suspended even these years, too.
Though the final decision regarding the suspension of Mela was suspected already by the traders’ assembly whenever the commotion dealing with the wall boundaries around the playground took place earlier.
If Robi’s ‘Tattwobodhini’ is there with it’s picturesque art on the Baul activities, Maharshi’s Autobiography is not so faraway from his mind-blowing sketchings of this festival. The small cottage industries are inspired and appreciated here and this was the primary goal of this endeavour. A large number of gathering forms every year from various corners of Bengal and abroad. And this year as Bastontotshav was cancelled, there was already an extra focus on Poush Mela but the worldwide pandemic had left not a single drop of hope for the craft and business persons. Though the urge of people is unchanged with the tunes of Tagore like “Poush towder daak diyeche, aay re chute aay” , the Poush-mela will be missed this year.