It was on the Sunday morning when I was flipping through the pages of The Indian Express that the advertisement of Paryatan Parv caught my eye. The Stakeholders left no stone unturned in inviting the people of all ages, Indians, and foreigners from far away places. The advertisements were printed on all the major dailies and the infomercials made sure that the Parv reaches out to the internet users.
An hour after reading the daily, I found myself with a notebook and a pen taking a stroll along the roads near the Central Secretariat Metro Station. In under two minutes, I was standing in the line, waiting to witness this “festival” for myself.
The prestigious Rajpath lawns were one among the many sites selected to host the celebrations of Paryatan Parv for the second time in as many years. The other sites that managed to make the cut were Connaught Place, Sarojini Nagar, and Mehrauli (for the full event calendar, click here).
The entrances were properly manned as I was subjected to a thorough check. I started my pursuit from the right-hand side, facing towards the India Gate.
I was welcomed with a flurry of stalls representing different states. All of them were distributing pamphlets and promoting their monuments, temples and other features which made their state unique. To build a rapport with the youth, the organizers of Arunachal Pradesh placed a photo booth at their entrance. One could observe how youngsters and the elderly alike were excited to watch themselves in the ethnic attire of the state.
The decorations appealed to me and I found myself full of questions. In that regard, the lady at the Sikkim stall was tremendously hospitable, replying to everyone’s queries with all the glee there is. When asked her about the significance of the flags that were present there, she responded by saying that each one of them signified different gods, with the same mantra of peace.
Another query which I had was regarding the temple model. The beautifully crafted model was made up of thermocol. It was so fragile that I thought it was made in Delhi. To my surprise, they had brought it all the way from Sikkim, wrapped in cotton. At the end of the conversation, she told me how her state was the first fully organic one in the country. Wishing me well, she invited me to Sikkim.
The next experience I encountered was from the stall of Uttrakhand. The background was once again lit up with places that boast of their prowess in tourism. One such image talked about the concept of Homestay Tourism. Though I had heard this term earlier too, I was unaware of what it clearly meant. So I asked the person responsible about the same. He gave me a statement or two on the topic but when he felt that I was looking for a more comprehensive answer, he asked me to wait for a moment and brought in a whole booklet on the topic for me! It is amazing how even after working for seven consecutive days, on a crowdy Sunday some people still treat every viewer with equal regards.
The Uttar Pradesh stall had a strong sensation of temple architecture associated with it. The background was full of Indian Gods. I was unaware about a few of them so I asked the one in charge, unfortunately, I was received by a conveniently turned deaf ear. After asking him again, he told me that those are the Gods from the temples around Varanasi. I was taken aback by his disinterest and hence I decided to walk away.
Another disappointment came in at the Ministry of Information and Broadcast’s exhibition (theme – “Saaf Niyat Sahi Vikas”). Though the setup was full of posters praising the policies of the current regime, it had no information for a non-Hindi speaker. When asked if any pamphlets related to this event were available in English, I was sad to hear a “no”. The host did her best as she brought a booklet on the topic of health for us, and that was all the non-Hindi information there was.
The Food :
Moving forward I found a sequence of food stalls from every nook and corner of our country. People were flocking together to have Litti Chokha from Bihar, Poha from Madhya Pradesh, Dal Bati from Rajasthan, and not to forget the utterly delicious non-vegetarian delicacies of the North East. I was tempted by the variety and decided to have a feast of my own. I tried Thekua from Bihar, Indori Bhel from Madhya Pradesh and Dahi Bhalla from Chattisgarh.
Students from the IHMs (Institutes of Hotel Management) got their share of cooking experience. They even had a kitchen studio setup right in the middle of the road, where they were sharing their recipes of mouth-watering dishes; the questions from the audience kept them busier.
NASVI(The National Association of Street Vendors of India) had their decent quota of shops. When asked about NASVI the vendor said, “Kafi achchi union hai, 1 Rs me aek saal ki membership. Bahut help ho jati hai, kabhi MCD ya Police se issue ho jaye to kanooni madad bhi free me milti hai (It is a very good union, the membership cost of 1 year is 1 Rs. It gives us immense help, if we run into any issue with the MCD or police, we are provided with the legal aid at no cost)”
The other side :
It had taken me 3 hours to cover one side of Rajpath by now. After reaching the end of the perimeter, I crossed the road in a hope to explore the travel destinations of other states. But turns out that, that lane was solely devoted to the Handicrafts and Handlooms. With 15 stalls from TRIFED(Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) and more so from the several states of India such as Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha it proved to be a vibrant and colorful setting.
An evening yoga camp had also been setup up at the site. Here, the teachers and students from the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga (which is under the Ministry of Ayush) were found spreading their knowledge by doing Yoga with the masses. The students showed their jubilance by high-fiving amongst each other for I was their 50th registrant of the day!
The late evening cultural show also formed the highlight of Paryatan Parv. Artists from various zones of the country set the stage on fire with their fierce display of professionalism. They adorned bright dresses, performed acrobatic tricks and kept the momentum going. The crowd kept cheering them on.
Even though it started raining, there was no stopping the festival. The venues were well-designed and equipped to deal with the rain. Soon, most electronic items were safely covered in sheets as the show went on into the late hours of the night.
At Paryatan Parv, there was something to fascinate everyone. Some people were seen running around to have pictures with the signs of “Incredible India”, “Atulya Bharat”, “Dekho Apna Desh” while others found themselves hooked on to the puppet shows. The food lovers were having the time of their lives, while the art admirers were in aplenty at the handicraft and handloom shops! The in and around performances and the people dressed in a variety of costumes kept the kids busy.
If you are craving for that bite of Thekua from your last time in Bihar or that plate of Sabudana Khichadi your friend always talks about; or you just feel like interacting with the locals of other states please do pay a visit to this wonderful setup. It ends on 27th September 2018, SO RUSH!