It was also seen that besides old venues, some new locations with new organizers were added and it was obvious that expectations were high on the part of the mela lovers to experience some new forms of entertainment. While visitors were attracted to such new additions, they also missed the old staples which used to especially entertain the low budget visitors.
The biggest contraptions at the melas were mostly joyrides targeted at kids while ‘Ghurnis’ and ‘targets’ were vying for the attention of the youth and the older visitors. Those waiting for their kids to finish their joyrides tried out ‘Hook the Beer’ even as Tambola [Housie] was the main attraction at most venues. Even this was marred by the clash and confusion of loud sounds coming from the joyrides and ‘chitrahaar’ [euphemistically called the cultural programme].
Further options for the older crowd came in the form of bars and restaurants that the mela organisers had acquired permission for. Although plenty in number, the rates charged by these stalls were not very easy on the pocket. It was found that in some of the so-called hotels the rates were 150% higher than the usual market rates.
Also missing was the traditional practice of bringing home some gifts for those who could not go to the mela like Bansuri-Murali [flutes], Vuvuzela, Trumpets, Firfirey in taxis, gas filled colourful Balloons, toys in the hands of kids or even mehendi on the hands of young girls.
Some of the organizers explained that everyone from kids to the elderly have now become tech savvy which is why they went for trendy options against traditional fare. On increasing the number of days for the mela, they argued that the low number of footfalls compelled them to do so in order to cover expenses. And somewhere they were right!
But in reality, a hopeful majority of Sikkim still wants the Maghey Mela to be celebrated the traditional and budget-friendly way by reducing organizing costs. Let’s hope the Maghey Melas next year can satisfy everyone's desires.