The Nauchandi Mela is an annual celebration held at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. The mela is organized by the municipal corporation of Meerut.
It is a one month long carnival starting from the second Sunday after the festival of Holi to promote the artistry and religious rituals followed in rustic Uttar Pradesh. The mela hosts more than 50,000 visitors every year.
Legend behind the Nauchandi Mela
The Nauchandi Mela was first held in 1672 AD as a one day long commercial celebration for cattle traders. A major change in the festival was introduced in 1857 during the Sepoy Mutiny when Indian leader Nana Sahib used the festival platform to garner support from the Indian masses in his fight against the British. Prior to that, the Nauchandi Mela ground was also used by the British East India Company for stallion exhibition and collection of revenues through the sale of these animals. Today, the festival celebrates the art and culture of UP.
Another section of people in Uttar Pradesh believe in a second legend which says that Mandodari, wife of Ravana, was born in Meerut. A devotee of Mandodari erected a temple dedicated to her in the city premises. It was from this year that the Nauchandi Mela came to be hosted.
Cultural Importance of Nauchandi Mela
The Nauchandi Mela is generally held in the month of March every year. Every evening, a cultural program is arranged by the local municipal authorities. Song and dance rituals continue till the early hours of the morning. The music competitions, equipped with modern orchestra and fireworks display, highlight the local talent. Nautankis or melodramas performed by local and visiting theater companies are a major crowd puller at the mela.
The municipality of Meerut has taken upon itself the duty of promoting rural women’s rights by organizing beauty contests and conferences on topics of female importance at the mela venue.
Customs and Traditions of Nauchandi Mela
The Nauchandi Mela is still used as a major trading point for residents of Meerut and neighboring UP cities, villages and towns. They erect shops and stalls to sell domestic animals, utensils and food. The mela serves as the perfect excuse for visit by tourists who are food enthusiasts. Sarson ka saag, pachak ki goli, local varieties of paan, and golgoppas are food items that you must not miss if you are at the Nauchandi Mela.
Colorful stalls promote the handicraft of Uttar Pradesh. From chikan work of Lucknow, to footwear of Agra, leather products of Kanpur and brassware of Moradabad, the showpieces will leave you enthralled. Also worth purchasing are bangles of Ferozabad, kohl of Bareilly, bed sheets of Panipat and china clay products of Khurja. Circus shows, toy stores and boating sites in the mela ground make sure that even the children can enjoy on a visit to the Nauchandi Mela.
Most importantly, the Nauchandi Mela is organized to establish communal harmony between the Muslims and Hindus of Uttar Pradesh. The festival grounds are located close to the Bala Mian dargah and the Nauchandi temple; both sites are a must visit for tourists at the festival.
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