Date: 15 Apr 2023
Sundarban Mela was held at Pakhiralay, Gosaba on Apr 15th and 16th from 5 pm to 8 pm to celebrate the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of Sundarbans. The festival was part of the collaborative initiative, Rural Craft and Cultural Hub (RCCH), undertaken by the Department of MSME&T, Govt. of West Bengal in association with UNESCO to strengthen ICH-based practices of the state and promote the grass-root creative entrepreneurs.
On 15th April, Sundarban Mela started with a Baul music performance by Rahul Sardar and team from Nadia. The festival was inaugurated by Jhumur, Baul and Banabibi Pala artists from Sundarbans by watering a plant. Then the evening cultural program started with a Jhumur dance and music performance by Adibasi Banophul Sampraday (Led by Bablu Sardar), Shiv Durga Jhumur Sampraday (Shila Sardar) showcased their local culture and tradition through jhumur dance to the audience. Later, Adivasi Lokosanskriti (Bandana Sardar and team) group performed Jhumur dance accompanied with adivasi song. The last performance of the day was Banabibir Pala, the traditional folk theatre acted to please goddess Banabibi to protect the honey collectors from man eating tigers and keep their family and loved ones safe. The performance was enacted by Ma Suhashini Natya group from Sundarban led by Anuja Adhikari and her team. Sundarban being a tourist location and during the festival there were many outsiders to whom the performance was very touchy and they felt very happy to witness such a theatrical performance imbibed with the lifestyle of the people of Sundarbans.
On 16th April, the festival started with Jhumur song and dance performance by Tusu Mata group and Pakhi Jhumur Sampraday (led by Putul Mandal) which was highly appreciated by the audience. As the tunes of Dotara started, the audience came live with and responded heartily to Bhatiyali music performance by Nabaneeta Mandal and team. Due to audience request the performance lasted an hour creating a different aura of music around the area. The last performance of Sundarban Mela was Chau dance from Purulia. It is a folk artform with elements of martial arts. Chau dance is performed with Chau masks and the dancers are highly skilled to perform vaults and jumps according to the beats of Dhamsa. The performance was led by Jagannath Choudhury and team Mitali Chau Maldi. They performed ‘Raaktasur Badh’ a performed of one hour which hold the audience to their chair. The performance was highly appreciated by the audiences and they proposed to have the team during others festivals in the area.
Other than the main stage performance there were craft stall on the mela ground covering Shola, Stone jewellery, Incense, wood craft and hay craft.