When: 08 – 14 November, 2016.
What: Pushkar Fair
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan
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Rajasthan is at its colorful best during fairs and festivals. There are numerous fairs throughout the year in the state, which brighten the otherwise hard and dreary lives of the villagers of the deserts.One of the most popular and colorful fairs of the Thar desert is the Pushkar fair, which begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi & goes on for five days till Kartik Purnima. The time of the fair coincides with the bright half of the moon during the months of October-November. The lake at Pushkar is one of the most sacred in India. From time immemorial, people have been gathering here annually during the month of Kartik to pay obeisance to Lord Brahma.
The Special Attractions
The picturesque lake of Pushkar is set in a valley just about 11 kilometers northwest of Ajmer, surrounded by hills on three sides and sand dunes on the fourth. Pushkar forms a fascinating location and a befitting backdrop for the annual religious and cattle fair. Turbaned heads of men, and colorful veils and skirts of the women, bring alive the arid desertscape. The village women dress in their best clothes and finery for the five-day mela. Pushkar is one of the sacred places for the Hindus, with 400 temples of which the most important is dedicated to Lord Brahma – the creator of the universe. Fifty-two ghats bind the lake. During the days of the mela, the otherwise tranquil lake is engulfed with religious fervor. Thousands of devotees congregate to take a dip, sadhus descend from the Himalayas and people pray for salvation to the sound of verses from the Holy Scriptures, which fill the air.In the afternoons, people crowd the stadium where camels, horses, and cows are paraded and raced. Camels are bought and sold during the Pushkar fair. An interesting part of the Pushkar Fair is the mass trading of camels. Of course, cattle and other livestock are also traded, but it’s camels that hold center stage at Pushkar. Camel-traders and villagers from miles away converge to Pushkar. Over 25,000 camels are traded; making this world’s largest camel fair.
Rituals/Traditions And Other Implications
These five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers, despite being the busiest for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, mainly camels, are brought from miles around. Trading is brisk as several thousand heads of cattle exchange hands. All the camels are cleaned, washed, adorned, some are interestingly shorn to form patterns, and special stalls are set up selling finery and jewelry for the camels. Camels at the Pushkar fair are decorated with great care. They wear jewelry of silver and beads. There are silver bells and bangles around their ankles that jingle-jangle when they walk. An interesting event is the camel beauty contest, where they are adorned and paraded. The camels preen before the crowds, enjoying every moment of the attention they get. The main draws for this fair that attracts are competitions such as the ‘matka phod’, longest moustache and bridal competition. In recent years the fair has also included an exhibition cricket match between the local Pushkar club and a team of foreign tourists. The tented bazaars are a hive of activity, while the scene on the dunes being increasingly busy and chaotic, with camel cart rides, itinerant musicians and vendors. Around the stadium there are cultural activities, competitions and a craft fair with handicraft stalls.
The festival itinerary is as follows: