Over the years Virasat has become a much awaited event in Dehra Dun. Starting as a small cultural festival in St. Joseph’s Academy several years ago, the event has grown both in activity and stature with public appreciation and government support. This dazzling 15 day festival is now held in the ONGC Stadium and has almost everything for everyone. From eating to shopping to enjoying Cultural events, you name it and it is there. Stunning performances by artists of International repute leave the audiences’ speechless everyday. A number of people visit the venue everyday to enjoy these performances.
Another reason for some people especially of the fairer gender to repeatedly visit Virasat is the fun of shopping, both window and actual. With handicrafts from all parts of India displayed enticingly some cannot control their innate instinct of splurging. Add to this the pleasant October weather, the fun of bargaining and the spirit of festivities, Virasat is an all time hit with the shopaholics of Dehra Dun. The sight of overloaded hubby trailing the enthusiastic wife is all too common here. The most crowded stalls though are those selling gastronomic delights. From Rajasthani cuisine to Paav Bhaaji and Garhwali food, everything was vigorously sought after by Virasat visitors.
On the downside though, the choice of the ONGC Stadium as its venue is debatable. With absolutely no parking space for vehicles, literally hundreds of cars and two wheelers are parked on both sides of the road, choking traffic and troubling people staying in the locality. Would any other organization be given permission to hold an event of such a massive scale without any provisions of parking? Surprisingly, the Dehra Dun traffic police which is very apt at placing challans on cars parked on roads elsewhere in the City, is absent for these 15 days from the area. Is this a case of favouritism?
Also debatable is the criterion for allotment of stalls in the venue. Most of the stalls go to the main sponsors of the event, like the Department of Culture, Uttarakhand Government & ONGC who in turn allot it to others. The end result is that most of these are occupied by businesses which employ artisans rather than artisans themselves, so on this account it is difficult to differentiate “Virasat” from the innumerable trade fairs which happen all the time. With the going rate of Rs 10,000/- per day per stall, it is very unlikely that any genuine artisan of Uttarakhand can afford to take one, which should not be the case since the Department of Culture of Uttarakhand Government is one of the main sponsors of the event. Perhaps more needs to be done for the genuine craftsmen from all over Uttarakhand, especially when taxpayer’s money is being spent on it.
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