Malhar Mela – 2023
A power-packed start to New Year
3 min. read
Dog and the Bone, a team game, refreshed everyone at GoodEarth’s Football Ground and the joy of playing one’s hand in various fun games such as Toss the Ring, Pipe the Ball, Bowling… was unquantifiable.
The Malhar Mela true to its name was a confluence of myriad colours, diverse energies, languages and culture.
More than 2600 people who participated in Malhar Mela proved that life is a celebration!
Agam enthralled the audience with their scintillating and soulful music, encouraging them to transcend barriers of age, gender, language and to sing along.
Even as the music permeated Malhar, the distinction between the band and the audience blurred, as people swayed to the beats, and everything appeared to be one seamless flow of infectious energy.
It was a sight to behold. A testimony to what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow rightly said of music being the universal language of mankind.
More than hundred volunteers who worked tirelessly made Malhar Mela 2023, a grand success, ushering the New Year with fervor.
Resident volunteers speak
For Sreedevi Ajayan, a resident of Mosaic, and a practising architect who believes in working at her own pace, the Malhar Mela had something for everyone, the youngest to the oldest.
“It was a day that gave everyone their space to be and enjoy in ways they preferred.”
Malhar Mela which started in a small way in 2017 was held for three consecutive years. It reinforced the need for coming together on a single platform and creating spaces for all to express, enjoy and celebrate.
However, the global pandemic halted the community effort, and after a gap of three years the Mela makes a comeback with a bang, ushering in the new year with hope, happiness and strengthening camaraderie.
The Mela this year had many firsts. For the first time, paid tickets were introduced to enter together with the wristbands.
Sandeep Nanu, a resident of Footprints, and who runs a communication consulting company, was struck by the clockwork precision with which the Mela was conducted.
“Well, I may be biased since I was involved in marketing and ticketing, but it looks like this was the best Mela so far. Not just for the fact that we had Agam band perform in our backyard. Everything was clockwork. A rock band like Agam ends their performance at 9:55 pm as we had police permission only till 10 pm,” says Sandeep.
For the law student Shriya Raghuram, a resident of Malhar, who is passionate about everything music and travelling, the Mela will be cherished for she was involved in many things.
Shriya together with Mona, both residents of Footprints, anchored the evening programmes. Unlike the previous Melas, the Mela this year was a day-long event.
“I sang a couple of songs, walked the ramp with my teen group, hopped from one stall to another…I loved Agam’s performance and the desserts from Le Kéne’s stall,” says Shriya.
Music was in the air and the dance performances, flash mob, DJ music by Tony and ad jingles of the 80s and 90s had everyone singing, tapping their toes and swinging their bodies.
Arvind, a resident, and a die-hard fan of S P Balasubramaniam, true to his inspiration sang spiritedly in Tamil, Kannada…while the audience resting on the ground taking a quick respite from the day’s sun and shopping were revived.
Gururaj, yet another resident of Malhar, paid a befitting tribute to one of the foremost playback singers Mohammed Rafi and had audience happy with the Kannada song “Baare, baare, Chandana cheluvina thaare…” from the cult film Naagarahavu.
The mela reminded Vaneeta Yadav, who is interning with GoodEarth, of her college days from which she graduated recently.
“The Mela offered a lovely space where people could mingle and simultaneously display their talents.”
The incredible enthusiasm kids showed in winning at the games stall was a great draw for Vaneeta, and the food stalls, of course.
“I was savouring those amazing Danish Nutella pastries for the first time, it goes without saying that food never lets anyone down,” quips Vaneeta.
While Gypsy Yarn, the name reminiscent of Matthew Arnold’s poem ‘The Scholar Gipsy’ , sold bamboo baskets like hot cakes, Muneera Jasdan’s decoupage in glass had a healing effect.
Sakshara Trust had displayed an array of handcrafted crocheted animals – octopus, tortoise and many more that pampered the child in anyone… cloth bags, pouches, clips with a dash of woollen splendour.
The Trust trains women and youngsters of the surrounding Anchepalya and Doddabele areas in skills that enhance their life through a little income generation and crafting beauty.
Sreedevi Gattu’s ‘Taabelu’ would nudge one to craft things out of materials that would generally be discarded. Small boxes for one’s jewellery made of cello tape rolls, soft toys made of leftover cloth were a delight.
Umoya Designs employs the ancient Japanese method of resist dyeing fabric called ‘Shibori,’ Eastern Winds and the Nest with its fine home decor, Viriya’s all things handmade…reinforced that Malhar was rich and vibrant, a community that nurtured and brought the best in each.
Simple, creative & playful
Decor of coconut fronds, Malhar Mela finely-chiselled in wood, colourful paper decorations, threshold designs of bright hues floating in the air transformed the Football Ground into a magical world.
Each one of them had something to carry back home.
For Sreedevi Ajayan, the fact that the event was achieved solely by the efforts of resident volunteers and backend support from GoodEarth, with no external professional event management help will be a matter of pride.
Almost every stall owner appears to have made decent business for the day.
“Friends who came from outside said they are jealous of how we have such events,” says Sandeep Nanu.
Small details such as shuttle service round the clock, from the parking to the venue, were called out by folks who care. The efficient waste management throughout the day and afterwards calls for much appreciation.
Long hours of ideation, meticulous planning, tireless efforts of the resident volunteers did bear fruition, as residents from across the seven communities, friends, relatives and many from outside Malhar experienced a day filled with joy, fun, art, beauty and high voltage music, reaffirming the value of coming together in large numbers despite multiple differences.