Nandan Mela, the art fair, organized by Kala Bhavana in its campus, on 1st and 2nd December every year before the birthday of Nandalal Bose, to commemorate his birth anniversary. Nandalal Bose took charge of Kala Bhavana in 1922 and is considered to be the man who shaped the institute. The master-artist believed that a holistic structure to the practice and teaching of art was necessary for a healthy society, and he endeavored to bridge the gap between the fine arts and the living traditions. He proposed a revival of indigenous art languages for a newly independent India, and for sharing our practices with the public. Thus he aimed at rescuing art from hermeticism, and making it socially relevant. In his book Vision and Creation he emphasized on the importance of having an annual art fair for the community people. Way back in 1973, Nandan Mela was first conceived as an occasion to raise funds for student’s welfare. The entire proceedings from the mela (fair) go to the Kala Bhavana Students’ Aid Fund.
The students involve in various kinds of activities including art stalls put up by the Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, Graphics, Design and Art History Departments. These stalls have artworks made by the students and teachers ranging from calendars to craft items, diaries, stationery, fashion jewellery, paintings, prints, saras (clay plates), and ceramics, wood and metal sculptures for sale at affordable prices. In addition to these were the annual art magazines, Nandan and Searching Lines for the discerning readers, Department of Art History brings out every year. Thousands of people from abroad and India join the fair.
But the greatest and the most significant event of the 2009 Nandan Mela had been, coinciding of putting of finishing touches and opening to view of K.G. Subramanyan’s new black-and white mural, on a building in Kala Bhavana campus. Ten years ago, Subramanyan had painted a mural in black-and white on the three exterior elevations of a twenty-five feet high building, with an improvised kind of synthetic tempera. It was not meant to stay long. Over the years it faded with bits of chipping. At the age of eighty-six Subramanyan came back to re-do the wall painting all anew on freshly done plaster. Went up and down the scaffolding, four times a day, and finished the new painting within a month, to coincide with Nandan Mela. It turned out to be a wonder. Proper lighting turned the building into the festival icon.
Nandalal Bose’s birthday is celebrated on 3rd December. In the morning, on 3rd December every year, a candle-light procession (Vaitalik) proceeds from the Kala Bhavana to Nandalal Bose’s house early morning to pay homage to him. Later in the day, students and teachers go out on a picnic to mark the completion of the celebration.