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Goa’s Lokotsav becoming India’s biggest Folk and Craft Fest

Goa’s Lokotsav becoming India’s biggest Folk and Craft Fest

Goa’s Art and Culture Department has once again risen at national fame with its 10-day long Lokotsav turning out to be one of the largest Craft and Folk Festival of India.

After taking Festival of Ideas – the lecture series – at a greater height by getting internationally renowned personalities to speak, the Lokotsav has perhaps become the only festival where craft and all kind of folk meets hand-in-hand with a modern outlook.

In last 17 years, it has definitely grown in size with a turnover of Rs two crore but also in variety and innovativeness that attracts Goa’s city-goers, India’s urbanites and even foreigners to India’s authentic and traditional art and craft.

“There are bigger craft melas taking place elsewhere in India, but our Lokotsav is a unique combination of crafts, folk dance, folk songs, folk dramas as well as workshops”, says Prasad Lolayekar, the art and culture director.
Started with mere 25 stalls and folk dances of Goa and the western zone in 1999, the Lokotsav this year is trying to accommodate total 750 craftsmen and women from all over the country in 550 stalls.

“Having no other option, we have accommodated two Goan craftsmen and women in one stall this time”, said Ashok Parab, assistant director of Art and Culture.

There are 260 Goans while 490 craftsmen and artists from all over India thronging to Goa to sell their art and craft to the local Goans as well as tourists.

The variety of items is expanding with every year, from furniture to terracotta utensils to wooden works, handloom, jute works, jewellery, shoes, sandals, paper works and even paintings and sculptors and a new addition this year – the craft of sanitary wear.

The Mahila Grih Udyog in fact waits eagerly for the Lokotsav to sell their traditional eatables, sweets, crochet and lots of innovations.

“We sell only at Lokotsav, otherwise we run our group in the village”, says Malati Kandolkar, running a women’s self-help group in Pernem.

With restaurants of traditional food getting added every year, the department has now decided to have a separate Food Court from this year for the tung twisters.

“The Surajkund Mela held on Delhi-Haryana border and Kalaghoda in Mumbai are big commercial craft fairs, but Goa’s Lokotsav is a real festival of the craftsmen and artists from villages”, says Amitav Bhattacharya.
His Banglanatak.com is the supporting partner of Lokotsav this year.

To make it tension-free and professional, the art and culture department spends almost Rs one crore to organise the Fest.

While occupying the full Kala Academy campus for the stalls and programmes of Folk from this year, the department has left the whole Bandodkar Ground only for parking.

The whole area, including the cloth used for the stalls is fire-proof and CCTV cameras are installed all over for surveillance.

EXPLOSION OF INDIAN FOLK

The Lokotsav is also turning into a cultural bonanza from this year with programmes of folk dances, authentic folk songs and folk dramas held at four locations simultaneously, within the campus.

The main stage at Darya Sangam strikes out with a huge backdrop of Goan Architecture – the theme of this year – where groups not only from Goa but folk groups from, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and up to West Bengal would perform.

“First time a group from Sri Lanka will perform this year while we are also trying to get the Russian folk artists to perform”, said Lolayekar.

It includes West Bengal’s Qawwali, Baul, Natua dance, Odisha’s Bajassal dance, Lokgeet and Ramleela from Bihar, the one and only Teejan Bai from Chhattisgarh, Keremane Hegde’s Yakshagana and even Mangala Bansode’s ‘assal’ Tamasha.
While these programmes are divided into the main stage and the Dinanath Mangeshkar auditorium, the open square and the lawns are reserved exclusively for children’s amusement programmes, including magic shows.

The Open Air Theatre, on the other hand, will stage folk dramas directed by department’s theatre teachers and played by schools students.

And Lokotsav is not merely the market and entertainment but also a festival of learning, says Lolayekar, as he has organised workshops on Bandhani, jewellery, toy making, music and even on how to cook traditional food with modern technology.

“The Pushkar Mela of craft or Shilpgram of Udaipur in Rajasthan are definitely more reputed festivals but we have expanded our horizon, making it unique”, says Lolayekar.

But Bhattacharya ranks it much higher because of other aspects he has observed as a sensitive artist:
“The variety of folk forms, the ambience and more importantly the warmth of Goans makes it one of the biggest festivals of Goa”, he says.

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