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Saturday, February 05, 2005

the last few hours of boi mela 2005

All good things must come to an end. Boi Mela is no exception. Sunday the 6th February will bring down the curtains on this year’s Mela. Exactly, at 8 pm the gong that heralded the start of the Mela will toll once again, mournfully this time, signifying the end. The stall owners and visitors will leave the grounds with a heavy heart. The venue of next year’s Mela remains undecided. While one cannot over rule the decision of the Honorable court, from what has been gathered, the new location may not be able to accommodate an event of such a large scale. Some statistics will highlight the problems –

In 1976 there were 36 publishers and 51 stalls. This year there were 852 stalls. The value of books sold in 1976 was around Rs 20,000 while last year it was approximately Rs 18 crores. In 1984, the Mela secured international recognition – it earned a place in the international calendar. In 1991, the theme pavilion started – initially with the different states of our country. From 1997, other countries joined the theme brigade. Over the years, keeping in mind the needs of the visitors, IT pavilions, internet magazines, software, CDs etc gained prominence. Today, there are stalls of popular TV channel networks hogging the limelight.

Apart from books, this Mela encourages all those associated with fine arts to come centre stage and showcase their talents. A separate area is earmarked for the artists who can draw your portrait in colors or pencil sketch if you have the time. And then there are the dedicated group of little magazine owners whose motto appears to be to get noticed – in their own words ‘we do not bother about how many books we sell but in how many people we can enthrall with our products!’

And then there are the groups of youngsters huddled together, humming tunes and soaking in the atmosphere, trying to become one with the elements. This time of the year is pleasant as it is – there is a slight nip in the air, evenings are charming with promises of good feeling flow in the air. The Kolkata Boi Mela gives everyone a wonderful opportunity to feel the toxic odor of new books, of goodies that make your mouth water; of suddenly locating someone you have been searching for – probably, this is the place where your search may end.

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