Bhubaneswar: The stage is set for the much-awaited annual Adivasi Mela-2024 at Adivasi Exhibition Ground at Unit-I from January 26 to February 5.
Stalls in the traditional Adivasi Haat and Tribal Art and Crafts segment will be erected by 22 Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs), 17 Micro Project Areas (MPAs), and various line departments of the State Government. The ground will be open to the general public from 2:30 pm to 9 pm.
The annual Adivasi Mela is a flagship event of the SC/ST Development, Minorities, and Backward Classes Welfare Department. It attracts people from the State Capital and nearby areas, showcasing tribal life, anthropology and providing a market for the sale of agricultural products, minor forest produce and craft materials. It also features events such as beautiful tribal dances, a multilingual drama festival in tribal languages, a drama presented by the SC/ST Development Department Cultural Association and a Bhajan Sandhya.
The most interesting part of the festival is the creation of life-size Adivasi Gaon (tribal huts) showcasing the lifestyle and culture of the different tribal communities and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). This year, the tribal huts will include the huts of Kutia Kandha, Santhal, Paudi Bhuyan, Hill Khadia and Mankirdia, Juanga Munda, Gadaba, Dongria Kandha, Lanjia Saora, Bonda and Chuktia Bhunjia.
While 39 cultural groups will be staging beautiful tribal dances from January 26 to February 1, a Bhajan Sandhya will be organised on January 30, and a drama by the SC/ST Development Department Cultural Association on February 2. Similarly, multilingual dramas by different tribal communities will be organised between February 3 and 5.
The Self-Help Groups (SHGs) associated with the ITDAs and MPAs will be encouraged to showcase their products, art and craft items during the mega event. Cashless transaction facilities through digital payment options will be available, enabling the public to explore and enjoy tribal products more conveniently. The use of plastics and polythene is strictly prohibited, and any possession of these materials during the event will be punishable. Line departments and organisations such as Mission Shakti, ORMAS, Millet Mission, Handloom Textiles and Handicrafts, Planning and Convergence, I&PR, and institutions like SCSTRTI, Academy of Tribal Languages and Culture (ATLC), Tribal Museum and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences will participate in the fair.
Adivasi Mela, the annual culture-cum-trade fair of the 62 tribal communities of Odisha, including 13 PVTGs, was first started in 1951 in Cuttack, the then capital of Odisha. It was later relocated to Bhubaneswar, the new capital, in 1954 and held at the Adivasi Exhibition Ground, Unit-I. Subsequently, due to law-and-order concerns, the venue shifted to the IDCO Exhibition Ground, Unit-III, Bhubaneswar, from 2018. However, this year, it returns to its original location. The event, organised by the Academy of Tribal Languages and Culture (ATLC) on behalf of the department, was initially a week-long but, after 2010, extended to 15 days due to its growing popularity.
The Adivasi Mela serves as a platform to raise awareness about the tribal development scenario in the state, highlighting how tribal communities integrate themselves with the mainstream while preserving their anthropogenic identity and uniqueness. On average, more than 10 lakh people attend the event, happily procuring organic tribal products and minor forest produces.