Bhubaneswar: The annual Adivasi Mela-2024 is ready to unfold at the Adivasi Exhibition Ground, Unit-I, near Sishu Bhawan Square, running from January 26 to February 5. The traditional Adivasi Haat and Tribal Art and Crafts segment will feature stalls set up by 22 Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs), 17 Micro Project Areas (MPAs), and various line departments of the State Government. The venue will welcome the general public from 2:30 pm to 9 pm.
Organized by the SC/ST Development, Minorities, and Backward Classes Welfare Department, the Adivasi Mela stands as a flagship event drawing visitors from the State Capital and nearby regions. It offers a glimpse into tribal life, anthropology, and serves as a market for the sale of agricultural products, minor forest produce, and craft materials. The festivities include captivating tribal dances, a multilingual drama festival in tribal languages, a drama presented by the SC/ST Development Department Cultural Association, and a Bhajan Sandhya.
A highlight of the festival is the construction of life-size Adivasi Gaon (tribal huts), showcasing the lifestyles and cultures of different tribal communities and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). This year’s display will include huts representing Kutia Kandha, Santhal, Paudi Bhuyan, Hill Khadia, Mankirdia, Juanga Munda, Gadaba, Dongria Kandha, Lanjia Saora, Bonda, and Chuktia Bhunjia.
From January 26 to February 1, 39 cultural groups will present beautiful tribal dances, followed by a Bhajan Sandhya on January 30, a drama by the SC/ST Development Department Cultural Association on February 2, and multilingual dramas by different tribal communities between February 3 and 5.
Self-Help Groups (SHGs) associated with ITDAs and MPAs will be encouraged to showcase their products, including art and craft items. Cashless transactions through digital payment options will be facilitated for a more convenient exploration and enjoyment of tribal products. Strict prohibitions against plastics and polythene will be enforced, with penalties for possession during the event. Various line departments and organizations, including Mission Shakti, ORMAS, Millet Mission, Handloom Textiles and Handicrafts, Planning and Convergence, I&PR, and institutions like SCSTRTI, ATLC, Tribal Museum, and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, will participate in the fair.
The Adivasi Mela, originally initiated in 1951 in Cuttack and later relocated to Bhubaneswar in 1954, returns to its original location this year after being held at the IDCO Exhibition Ground, Unit-III, Bhubaneswar, in 2018. Organized by the Academy of Tribal Languages and Culture (ATLC), the event has grown from a week-long affair to a 15-day extravaganza since 2010 due to its increasing popularity.
Beyond being a cultural and trade fair for the 62 tribal communities of Odisha, including 13 PVTGs, the Adivasi Mela serves as a crucial platform to raise awareness about the tribal development scenario in the state. It emphasizes how tribal communities integrate into the mainstream while preserving their anthropogenic identity and uniqueness. With an average attendance of more than 10 lakh people, the event continues to be a source of joy for attendees who happily procure organic tribal products and minor forest produce.