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Dr. Seema Bawa

The closest term for a fair in Sanskrit is a Mela meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’ or a ‘fair’. In the Indian subcontinent it has been used for all sizes of gatherings that may be religious, commercial, cultural or sport-related. In rural traditions melas or regional and village fairs were (and in some cases still are) of great importance.

The mushrooming of cultural fairs, Art Fairs, whether annual/biennales/ triennials in India compels me to try and see whether, within the Indian cultural and social matrix in general and art fairs in particular, we can actually try to retrieve the genealogy of the idea of the fair and festival. In contemporary practice vestiges, of traditional melas and utsavas remain within the largely western sponsored idea of art fairs, soirees and festivals.

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