By Ananya Agarwal
Meerut, a small city exactly 70 kilometers from Delhi is the “cricket capital” of West Uttar Pradesh, famous for its sweets like Gajak, Rewri and Nankhatai! Is it?
Not much has been said or written about this place, except the sepoy mutiny and the First War of Independence of 1857. Apart from all of this, there is something else worth celebrating about the city that has been continuing since ages and would continue for the times to come that binds the people of Meerut “together” and tags another star in its list of attractions.
Nauchandi Mela: Meerut Ki Galiyon Ka Shaan
The Nauchandi Mela is an annual affair that takes place on the second Sunday after Holi. For a month, the city is loaded with people coming from all over to participate in the fair. Nauchandi Mela is supposed to be named after the Temple of Chandi Goddess which was erected by Mandodari( Ravan’s wife) who was a great devotee of the goddess. A religious festival is held in her name and since then the fair is held every year.
Another legend that surrounds the celebration of the fair is another religious site that lies in the vicinity of the fair is Bala Mian’s Dargah. The story behind the dargah dates back to the rule of Mahmud of Ghazni.
The invasion of India by Mahmud of Ghazni brought along with it loot, violence and bloodshed.
THE FAIR: THEN v/s NOW
In 1884, F.N. Wright, the then collector of Meerut District started a horse exhibition where good breeds of horses were bought and sold. The other activities had then begun to commensurate alongside trade to attract the prospective buyers and customers. Middle-aged and senior citizens of western U.P. have a certain degree of nostalgia attached with the Nauchandi Mela. It wasn’t just a regular fair, it was a celebration of life. Until the early eighties and nineties, the commencement of the mela saw people coming in hordes riding on bullock carts, buses, pooling autos and crowding trains.
A special train “Nauchandi Express” was a government of India initiative for facilitating the smooth and affordable transportation of people and goods to The Nauchandi Mela of Meerut.
What Has Changed?
In the present times, the conditions have deteriorated at various levels. The fair which was once supposed to be an epitome of communal harmony and peace now deals with communal clashes every year. Due to the lax security cases of molestations and communal fights have become a routine.
It has lost its viability as a market and this year until now, the sellers haven’t turned up to purchase stalls. The fair has lost its magic because it hasn’t been able to keep up with the changing times and the inability of the district administration to appropriate funds and inefficient management.
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