Kesariya balam padharo mahaare desh!

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The annual Gangaur Mela takes on a new avatar for 2016

Members of the Rajasthani Kutumb of Victoria (RAJKOV) gathered in late April to mark the festival of Gangaur, one of the most pertinent festivals of India’s Rajasthan state.

The event celebrates marital fidelity, the spring festival and the harvest season.

RAJKOV.Indian Link

In true Rajasthan tradition where bright colours off-set the arid desert conditions, the Melbourne celebration was resplendent with colour.

Since the founding of this organisation in 2001, the Gangaur Mela has always been held in East Melbourne. This year’s Hopper Crossings event was a first. The turnout was low as compared to the previous years, the probable reason being the lack of interest from the Westies and the East-siders not wishing to travel far.

RAJKOV.Indian Link

Yet a strong show was put up with much emphasis on the Rajasthani culture and tradition. The ensemble was ceremonial, the music traditional, and the crowds decked up! Whether it was the band that sang many numbers, or the tunes to which children, youth and seniors danced to, all was in sync with the spirit of Rajasthan. The highlights were the performances by seniors and those by the littlies, the authentic outfits and music a far cry from the usual run-of-the-mill Bollywood items.

RAJKOV.Indian Link

The food stalls were few in number and mediocre in quality. The USP of this event traditionally is the camel ride, but due to some approval issues there was none organised this year, which was a let-down for many.

Anshika Kathuria, one of the regulars to this event, said, “It’s been a great event. However, I feel this time there is less interest and enthusiasm amongst people to come forward and participate, as compared to previous years. Also, there are considerably less people attending than what we have seen before.”

RAJKOV.Indian Link

The event also had free henna tattoos, free astrology consultation, and a few jewellery and sweets stalls. The dance workshop kept everyone engaged and entertained.

There were also two free air tickets to India as giveaways sponsored by Air India. Ironically, one of these was won by a member who had signed up for a lifetime membership that very day, and the other was won by a relative of one of the committee members.

RAJKOV.Indian Link

Dignitaries attending included the Acting Mayor of Wyndham Council Gautam Gupta, Head of Chancery at Indian Consulate Rakesh Malhotra, and Harrison Ward Councillor Intaj Khan.

Ruchi Sharma, Secretary RAJKOV said, “We plan on holding only one Gangaur event so as to bring together all the people of Rajasthani heritage that are spread across Melbourne.”

RAJKOV.Indian Link

Anuj Gupta, President RAJKOV added, “This festival helps connect the old and the new generations back to our roots and makes us culturally stronger.”

Perhaps the best thing about the event was that it did not lose its essence. There weren’t any unnecessary distractions such as too much Bollywood music or the attempt to make it too westernised. The MCs spoke in their native language (along with English of course). The focus was solely on Rajasthani music, dance, dresses, and traditions, and that was truly commendable.

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