Poush Mela of Shantiniketan West Bengal

Poush Mela Dates 2015

24 – 26 December 2015

Winter is a blissful season for many. Winter, in few places, has a distinct flavor and colors beyond its typical facet. Many places in India, especially small towns and villages celebrate the arrival of winter for many reasons. Winter marks the end of the harvesting as well as the beginning of the next harvest season.

West Bengal is the motherland of the great artists, intellects and renowned poets in the world. It needs no introduction of arts and crafts. The arts and crafts are cherished as precious assets here. In addition to the very own Durga Puja and Kali Puja celebrated by Bengalis, ‘The Festival of Poush’ carries a lot of importance too.


Poush Mela – An Introduction to the Cultural Festival of Shantiniketan

Poush Mela is a three-day fair which start on the seventh day of the Bengali month Poush. It generally falls in the last week of December

Some of the harvest festivals are celebrated quite big as a cultural carnival and a fair honoring the traditions, arts and crafts. Poush Mela is one of the festivals of India, celebrated as a big fair and cultural carnival. It is a big festival in Shantiniketan, in the Birbhum District of West Bengal. Santiniketan needs no introduction, thanks to the Vishva Bharti University here which is the vision of Rabindranath Tagore. This small town of Shantiniketan is about 160 kilometers north of Kolkata.

Poush Mela is a very popular fair in West Bengal, a major tourist attraction which brings people from all over. Poush Mela proudly witnesses the confluence of the artisans from various parts of West Bengal and tourists not only from India but also from abroad.

Poush – The Prosperous Winter Season

Poush refers to the ninth month of the Bengali Calendar. The month corresponds with the month of December and January, typically the winter season.

The arrival of winter season bids adieu to the harvesting season. Many people embrace winter, not just for the snowy atmosphere and cool climate. It is bliss for the farmers as they have ample income earned from harvesting as well as a huge pile of foods stored. So, it is considered a good omen and an auspicious month.

There is a popular saying in Bengali about the abundance of the foods and profits earned by the farmers in Poush.

“For some it is the month of Poush, for others it is ruin”

Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, a famous Bengali Writer also quoted the prosperity of the Poush month in one of his novels through a small poem.

Poush-Poush, golden Poush,

Come Poush but don’t go away, don’t ever leave,

Don’t leave Poush, don’t,

The husband and son will eat a full bowl of rice.

 So, Poush synonymously refers to prosperity.

From the face of it, it is very clear that Poush is the celebration of harvest season, celebrated as an annual festival.

The origin and development of the Poush

Devendranath Tagore, a Hindu Philosopher and his followers accepted the practices of the Brahma Samaj, a religious reform movement on 21st December 1843, which happened on the 7th day of the Poush month according to the Bengali Calendar. This day put a strong foundation to the Poush Utsav.

A Brahma Mandir was setup at Shantiniketan in the year 1891. A fair was organized in 1894 to celebrate the anniversary of the temple. The celebration was only for a one day, which included evening prayers followed by fireworks. Gradually, it became a grand affair and now since many years, Poush mela is celebrated for 3 days starting 7th day of Bengali Poush month. It is now celebrated as an art and culture fair, held in a large field in Purbapalli.

The small, homely festival limited to the followers of Brahma Samaj has now transformed into one of the important festivals of West Bengal and an important art and cultural event of India, attracting more than 10000 visitors every year!

Inauguration of the Poush Mela

Poush Mela or Utsav begins on the 7th day of the month, which falls around the last week of December, mostly 23 or 24 December.

Beautiful and melodic music of the Shehnai wakes up Shantiniketan at sunrise, which symbolizes the commencement of the celebration. Followed by the music, a community prayer is conducted. The prayer is termed as Brahmopasana.

A special group of people called Vaitalik group are the first ones to perform at the fair. The group sings songs and go all around the ashram while singing. After the procession, the prayer meeting is conducted, which is followed by singing Rabindra Sangeet or the songs of Tagore.

The gala fair begins after the initial commemoration is made!

Cultural Extravaganza at Shantiniketan Poush Mela

Poush mela is a lavish fair filled with folklore, songs, dance and theatre performances. The gala event is celebrated for three days. All you could hear is a lot of soft and soothing music.

Poush Mela is one of the fairs, where local, national and international travelers gather to celebrate a three day fiesta at Shantiniketan, West Bengal.

Bengali Folk Music and Dance at Poush Mela

The last two days of Poush Mela is all about the lively and eccentric performances of the Bengali folk dance and music.

Baul Music

Baul refers to a mystical singing group, aboriginal to West Bengal, who specialize in singing religious songs. Bauls are unique and they constitute a musical tradition and represent a religious sect with syncretism. (Syncretism or syncretic means holding and exhibiting contradictory beliefs) Baul music indicates a specific type of folk song performed by the Bauls.


The songs are strongly influenced by religious movements of the Hindus. The lyrics of the songs deeply intertwine with the mystical facts as well as with extreme sense of divinity. Bauls use a lots of instruments. The songs of the bauls depict the lifestyle and culture of the Bengalis.

After the performance of the bauls, folk theatre performances are conducted.

Folk Dances

Folk dance and music form a major part of the life in the interior villages of the West Bengal. Various tribal groups perform their traditional folk dances at the Poush mela, a feast for the eyes!

Mostly, the female dancers (the tribal group or village women) wear saree in a combination of yellow and red. The women dance to the music played by the men.

The second day evening is then celebrated with the fireworks!

Dance and theatre arts by Students of Shantiniketan

Students take part in the art and craft festival and make the celebration more colorful. School and college students provide live performances and dance to the folk music.

Cultural activities are one of the main factors of poush mela. Arts and crafts exhibition is another face that fulfills the objective of this fair.

Poush Mela Bazar – What to Buy?

Poush Mela houses more than 1500 stalls in the fair, set by hundreds of artisans. Around 4000 visitors flock to Shantiniketan during Poush Utsav. What you can buy in the Poush Mela? You can buy all the arts and crafts, from a variety of handmade bags to artistic organic jewelry made of wood and other natural materials. Although, officially the fair is conducted for 3 days, most of the artisans keep their stall intact at least for a month!


Some of the famous handicrafts that you would yearn for in the Poush mela include the following;

A Bag Bazar

Innumerable varieties of handmade bags, clutches, purses, in various colors made using various fabrics.

Intriguing Fabric Art

Every state has its special form of fabric and weaving art. West Bengal is not an exception. Handmade batik dresses and sarees are one of the popular fabric arts that captivate most of the visitors to Poush Mela.

Home décor items: A range of jute wares

Poush Mela is a heaven to buy handicrafts.  Mats, rugs, decorative wall hangings, made of jute are exquisite items to invest in.

Artistic jewelry craft

In addition to dresses and jute crafts, you could not prevent yourself from gazing at a variety of handmade jewels. The specialty of the jewelry art is, it is made using various materials including wood, jute, mud etc. You can buy high quality and intricate jewelry pieces made from wood, bamboo, brass, shells, and even stones! The artisans are quite skilled to craft the jewelry with any material they have.

Shantiniketan can accommodate around 1600 guests. If you plan to be a part of the mela for all the three days, base your accommodation at Shantiniketan. But for this, you need to boom your accommodation months before the actual event starts.

When you are there in Shantiniketan, just enjoy the blissful stay there with soul enchanting music and dance performances. Cultural bliss can never be so satisfying as it is at Shantiniketan Poush Mela!

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