Commencing on the 7th day of the Hindu month of Poush, the fair officially lasts for three days, although vendors may stay until the month-end as per the university regulations.
Devendranath Tagore with twenty followers accepted the Brahmo creed from Ram Chandra Vidyabagish on 21 December 1843 (7 Poush 1250 according to the Bengali calendar). This was the basis of Poush Utsav (The Festival of Poush) at Santiniketan.
A Brahma Mandir was established at Santiniketan on 21 December 1891 (7 Poush 1298 according to the Bengali calendar).
A small fair was organised in 1894 in connection with the establishment anniversary of the Brahma Mandir, in the ground opposite the Mandir. What started as a small homely Poush Mela now attracts attention of not only the people of the local Birbhum district but tourists from all around.
In earlier days the Mela (fair) was held in the ground on the north side of Brahma Mandir (also known as glass temple). A firework display used to be organised in earlier days after evening prayers. As the Mela grew in size, it was shifted to the field in Purbapalli.
Poush Utsav is inaugurated on 7 Poush (around 23 December) every year. At dawn, Santiniketan wakes up to the soft music of Shehnai.
The first to enter the scenario is the Vaitalik group, who go round the Ashrama (hermitage) singing songs. This is followed by a prayer-meeting at Chhatimtala. Then the entire congregation moves on to Uttarayan singing songs.
Poush Mela is characterized by the live performances of Bengali folk music, especially the devotional Baul music. It includes folk songs, dances and tribal sports.
This fair offers a perfect insight of the true heritage of the state of Bengal. The students of Santiniketan present their magnificent performance in the festival and make this festival extremely enjoyable and glamorous.
Each day of this festival is filled with different activities. The last day of this fair is devoted to those who are related to Santiniketan.
Some 1,500 stalls are set up in the fair. The number of tourists pouring in for the three-day fair is worth watching.
Government statistics put the daily inflow of tourists into Santiniketan at around 3,500 per day on normaldays. But during the major local festivals of Poush Utsav, Basanta Utsav, Rabindra Paksha, and Naba Barsha it goes up to an average of 40,000 per day or even more.
Many of these visitors stay at Santiniketan, which has 85 lodges with accommodation for 1,650. Apart from this, rooms on rent can be taken for a few days.
Local printed fabrics and handicrafts are available in the stalls set up during the fair. Besides, materials of household interest and toys are also available in the fair. Various food stalls are also set upin the fair.