The annual Toshali National Crafts Mela has just grown bigger and better, thanks to the Tourism Department in Odisha and Minister Ashok Panda, who is definitely serious about giving the sector a big boost through his efforts. The 9th edition held from 15th to 27th December’ 2014 at Bhubaneswar was a roaring success. The mega event was organised by the Handloom ,Textile and Handicraft Department, Govt of Odisha with the State Institute for Development of Arts and Crafts(SIDAC) as the implementing agency.
Artisans, weavers, painters and sculptors drawn from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar , Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Punjab, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the host state Odisha participated in the Fair.
Madhubani painting of Bihar, wood furniture of Saharanpur, brass products of Moradabad, Solapith flowers of West Bengal, patchwork of Madhya Pradesh, bamboo products of Tripura, Iron crafts of Chhattisgarh as well as the major crafts of Odisha such as Applique, Stone Carving, Wood Crafts, Pattachitra, Natural Fibre, Dhokra Craft, Silver filigree, Terracotta, Paper Machie, Straw Craft etc were on display and they all got terrific response , highlighting that the traditional art and handloom of the country is still alive and kicking.
In handwovens, there was Chikankari of Lucknow, best shawls of Kashmir, rich Banarasi silk sarees , Bengal textiles, garments of Delhi and the major handloom of Odisha such as Ikkat , Tassar , Bomkai, Sambalpuri Ikkat, Kotpad Sarees and a range of Tribal textiles. There was also a very encouraging participation of Educational institutes in the field of Handlooms and Textiles Technology. A theme pavilion named ‘Magic in Metal’, depicting the Dhokra craft tradition of Odisha, stood right in the middle of the Fair.
Latest singing sensation and winner of India’s Raw Star reality show competition, Rituraj Mohanty, performed live at the Mela. This was his first performance in his home State after winning the reality show competition. In fact, the Handloom, Textiles and Handicrafts department, in collaboration with the department of Culture, held cultural evenings in which top artists from across the State as well as the country performed.
12 lakh people were expected to visit the Fair this year. But the official count put it at 15 lakh and above by the time the Fair culminated, going on to show the fantastic response that the Fair got. The dust may have settled on Toshali Fair’14 but already expectations have been generated for the coming editions, both from the participants and the very people who thronged the Fair.
Colorful stalls, live and vibrant cultural performance, mouth-watering cuisines and breathtaking artefacts from across the country was the highlight of the Crafts Festival. The Handloom and Handicraft Festival provided an excellent opportunity for visitors to interact with artisans of international repute in an ambience of a rural Indian bazaar or ‘Haat’. The Toshali Crafts Fair was not just a congregation of craftsmen showcasing India’s rich handloom and handicrafts products but also a meeting ground of pristine culture and the pulsating present which exudes the effervescent spirit of India. The Toshali National Crafts Mela is now an event that has carved out a special niche in the country’s carnival and Festival carnival.