Visva-Bharati has announced the schedule for a four-day on-campus event ‘Poush Utsav’, beginning Wednesday, while remaining tight-lipped about holding the associated heritage fair. ‘Poush Mela’ — the annual heritage fair — showcases diverse art and craft in West Bengal’s Santiniketan during this time of the year, drawing lakhs of people from across the country as well as abroad.
Highlights of Poush Utsav
The central university issued a notice on Tuesday, stating that baitaliks (musical procession), prayers, foundation day celebrations and Christotsav (Christmas) will be the highlights of four-day ‘Poush Utsav’, traditionally held alongside ‘Poush mela’, but made no mention about the fair. Taking exception to the notification, the Visva-Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) said it “strongly condemns the recent hide-and-seek policy of the administration”.
“Till date, we have not been told officially that the university is skipping ‘Poush Mela’. Visva-Bharati failed to show minimal courtesy to acknowledge the letter received from Bolpur Municipality and Santiniketan Trust, expressing their interest in conducting ‘Poush Mela’.”
A Visva-Bharati official said the university has decided against organising the fair for the second consecutive year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and rise in Omicron cases.
Making Poush Utsav possible amid Covid-19
To this, a VBUFA member said, “First of all, there is no government prohibition on holding a mela if some precautions are taken. In fact, Gangasagar mela and bookfair are being held with government approval and support. “Second, if there is any threat from Covid-19 and Omicron, as claimed by Visva Bharati officials, it is the university that is going to make everyone vulnerable to these threats by mobilising hundreds of people for Poush-Utsav.”