JAMMU, Jan 29: West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka are among the 15 States which have confirmed their participation in the debut SARAS Mela being held in Jammu from February 4 onwards.
The 11-day-long mela being conducted by the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) aimed at reviving the art and culture of Jammu and Kashmir and traditional foods of Jammu region in particular will showcase the particular handloom and handicraft products of all the 20 districts of the Union Territory besides making the young generation aware about their heritage through various cultural programmes.
“One special handloom and handicraft product of every district will be put on display in the SARAS Mela,” Managing Director, JKRLM, Indu Kanwal Chib told the Excelsior.
For example, she said, block printing of Samba, Sozni and Basohli Pashmina shawls, Sattu of Poonch and black cumin (Kaala Zeera) are among some of the items that would be put on display in the mela.
Besides the expected handicraft and handloom products, the other states and UTs participating in the SARAS mela shall also display the particular foods and cuisines of their States.
The JKRLM MD said that in total 72 stalls shall be put on display in the 11-day-long mela.
“Of the total stalls, the number of the regional stalls of handicraft and handloom would be 20 and the number of food stalls of Jammu region would be around 10-12,” she said.
Among the traditional food items to be displayed and prepared in the mela are Kiyur, Anaardaana Chutney, Tode, Bajre Ki Rotiyan, Laddu, Shrikhand, Achaar, Sattu and other vegetarian items.
According to Indu Kanwal Chib, different stalls of millets shall also be put on display in the SARAS mela as the current year is being celebrated as the International Year of Millets.
“A children activity area would also be set up at the mela venue where the young ones would be made to understand their ancient culture, rituals, food, art & crafts, and the heritage through some activities like on-the-spot learning of block printing, pottery making, Kaleera making etc,” said the officer.
As part of the mela, cultural folk programmes aimed at reviving the rich culture of Jammu and Kashmir shall also be organised in the evening, which would be participated by university, college, school students and other people.
To facilitate the customers and the mela enthusiasts, the facility of cashless transactions would also be made available at the Mela venue.
“For this purpose, we have set up mobile ATMs of J&K Bank, SBI Bank and provided Bhim Pay and other online payment options to our women Self-Help-Groups (SHGs) who will sell their products in the mela,” she said.
The stalls of women SHGs have also been insured so as to avoid any financial losses to the poor and marginalized women.
Besides J&K Information Department, Tourism Department, Fisheries Department, Floriculture Department, Handicrafts and Handloom Department, the JKRLM has also collaborated with some YouTube influencers and National personalities for increasing the footfall in the mela.
As far as logistics and boarding of the outside state women SHGs is concerned, the JKRLM has been assured help by the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board authorities who have been providing the outsiders their dormitories.
A Jammu Jammu Darshan and Vaishno Devi Darshan programme is also being planned by the JKRLM to help the women SHGs visiting Jammu for the first time.
“A similar SARAS mela would be held in March in Kashmir along the Dal Lake,” added Indu Kanwal Chib, the MD JKRLM.