Chandigarh: Upgraded to an international crafts fair, the Surajkund Crafts Mela will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday (Feb 2) in Haryana's Faridabad district, adjoining New Delhi.

Nearly 20 countries, including SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) members, have confirmed their participation in the 27th edition of the fair, a state government spokesman said in Chandigarh on Thursday.

As many as 300 crafts persons, weavers, artisans, folk musicians and dancers would participate from the theme state of Karnataka, he pointed  out."Keeping in view the record participation of 12 countries in the last year's mela, it has now been upgraded as International Crafts Mela.

This year also, the countries that have confirmed their participation are Rwanda, Guinea, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Congo and Egypt from the African continent. "Eurasian countries namely Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and SAARC nations Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan would participate. Thailand and Peru would also participate," he added.

As a corporate social responsibility initiative, the Surajkund Mela Authority will provide 50 percent rebate in the entry tickets to the disabled, senior citizens, serving soldiers and ex-servicemen. Freedom fighters will have free entry to the fair. The fortnight long fair, which showcases traditional crafts from all over India and leading artisans, will continue till Feb 15 (9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. daily).

Surajkund derives its name from the ancient amphitheatre sun pool constructed here in the 10th century AD by Raja Suraj Pal, one of the Tomar chieftains, in the Aravalli mountain range. Making a modest beginning in 1981, the Surajkund crafts fair has become a popular event over the years, getting nearly a million footfalls last year. Hundreds of foreign visitors also visit the fair every year.


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