Today fairs, exhibitions, festivals and cultural shows, of all types and kinds, have become an integral part of modern life. Though commerce, advertisement and propaganda may be their primary aim yet, exhibitions and fairs enlighten, enrich and widen people’s knowledge.
More than anything else exhibitions on the whole, add thrill and joy to our humdrum life, marred by tensions and ceaseless activity. They provide a break and lighter moments to our lives.
A few years ago, I got an opportunity to visit the Annual North-Eastern Exhibition held at Polo Football stadium, Shillong, along with few of my friends in the city. We reached the venue around 5.00 p.m. in the evening.
An impressive gate with glittering lights, colourful banners and fine decorations stood at the entrance. The entire stadium was alive with numerous people, light, music and sounds. It looked like a carnival with children running about and people roaming leisurely.
The stalls full of varied items were arranged along the sides of the stadium, leaving the middle part for people to move about. We decided to start with the first stall close to the entrance. It was a Book section.
This section contained books dealing with the seven sister-states of the Northeast. We saw thousands of neatly arranged books on stands and on table all dealing with different topics and aspects of Northeast. A good number of people were going through the various books. I saw for the first time the famous ‘Chronicles of Ahoms’. Going through it I was greatly impressed by its detailed description and literary flavour.
We moved to the next section which consisted of the handicraft section. Perhaps this was the most attractive section of the entire exhibition. There were several stalls depicting the different handicraft products of various states of Northeast. Cane-works, bamboo baskets, hats of various types and kinds, mats, lamp-shades, tea-trays, dinning tables, bookstands, beautiful tea stumps etc. all in various colours, shapes, design, artistically made and richly carved attracted numerous people. The photo section depicting the panoramic sights and natural sceneries of Northeast too attracted hundreds of visitors.
Thereafter, we moved to the Textile section. It was the most colourful part of the whole exhibition. There were hundreds of hand-made and woven clothes from all the states of Northeast. The clay models wearing the national costumes of seven states were a wonderful attraction.
The last section of the exhibition consisted of the industrial section, which depicted the industrial progress of the region. The clay models of the First Oil field at Digboi, Oil refinery at Noonmati (Guwahati), Jogighopa Paper Mill, replica of Umiam hydel project of Meghalaya etc. were highly educative.
In between the stalls there were many tea-stalls, ice-cream parlours, and coffee houses for the general public. We concluded our enjoyable visit with a cup of hot coffee. We had spent more than an hour in the exhibition. We didn’t realise how quickly time had passed.
The visit to the Annual North-Eastern exhibition was an enriching experience. It made me realise that the entire northeast is a mosaic of races, cultures, traditions and a storehouse of vast resources, with immense possibilities of development and progress. The exhibition was a miniature northeast presented in one field. The exhibition was highly informative, educative and left behind a lasting impression upon me.