Pushkar Fair begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi
- Apart from the buying and selling of livestock, it has become an important tourist attraction.
- Competitions such as the "matka phod", "longest moustache", and "bridal competition" are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists.
The Pushkar Fair (Pushkar Camel Fair) or locally Pushkar ka Mela is an annual five-day camel and livestock fair held in the town of Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan, India. It is one of the world's largest camel fairs. Apart from the buying and selling of livestock, it has become an important tourist attraction. Competitions such as the "matka phod", "longest moustache", and "bridal competition" are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists.In recent years the fair has also included an exhibition cricket match between the local Pushkar club and a team of random foreign tourists. The Imperial Gazetteer of India mentions an attendance of 100,000 pilgrims in early 1900s.
Thousands of people go to the banks of the Pushkar Lake where the fair takes place. Men buy and sell their livestock, which includes camels, cows, sheep and goats.The women go to the stalls, full of bracelets, clothes, textiles and fabrics. A camel race starts off the festival, with music, songs and exhibitions to follow. Between these events, the most waited for is the test of how the camel is able to bring the items. In order to demonstrate, the men go up on the group of camels one after another.
It is celebrated for five days from the Kartik ekadashi to Kartik Poornima, the full moon day (the 15th) of Kartik (October–November) in Hindu calendar. The full moon day is the main day and the day, according to legend, when the Hindu god Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake, thus numerous people swim in its sacred waters.
The sleepy lakeside settlement of Pushkar lies in the Northwest Ajmer in the state of Rajasthan. This sacred town of the Hindus, also known as the Lourdes of the East, finds references in the Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana, and takes pride for being a site to the only temple of the God of Creation, Brahma. With over 400 temples and 52 bathing ghats, very few places can match the religious fervor associated with this town. Come the month of Kartik and the quaint and arid town comes alive with a frenzied burst of activity. With the gaily attired local folks, the rich Rajasthani music, folklores of gallantry and the holy chants straight out of the scriptures reverberating in the air, the town gets all prepared to host the world renowned Pushkar Fair. This is the time when livestock owners from all over the country come here to trade their camels as well as other species. It also marks the time when thousands of devotees flock to the holy lake of Pushkar and take a dip.
Pushkar Camel Fair
The Pushkar Fair begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi, which falls in the month of October-November and goes on for five long days till Kartik Purnima. The fair is synonymous to a cattle fair, as mass trading of cattle, such as camels, horses, cows, goats, and sheep, take place during these five days. After the selling and purchasing of popular breeds, parading of the well bred and decked up cattle take place. Although various animals are traded, camels rule the roost. The camels are washed spanky clean and adorned with various cloths to form interesting patterns. Stalls selling jewelry and other finery for camels are set up. Silver bells and bangles around their hoofs jingle when they walk past the golden sand dunes. A ritual involves piercing the camel's nose. With over 25,000 camels exchanged, the Pushkar Fair is arguably the world's largest camel fair.
Camel FairAnother striking feature of the Pushkar Fair is the camel competition. Beautifully decorated camels parade while competing in a beauty contest and the best bedecked camel wins the prize. In one of the competition, large numbers of people are made to sit on the camel's back. The camel now lopes across the sand and throws its riders off its back, amidst cheers and jeers from thousands of spectators. The camel which succeeds in accommodating the maximum number of people on its back, wins the competition. Though spectators take pleasure in the festivity and fervor, it is the animal that enjoys the most. The camels are seen preening before the crowd, seeming to enjoy every bit of attention that they receive during these five days.
The fair is also the time when the varied art of colorful Rajasthan is exhibited in front of the curious tourists. From jewelry items for cattle, ranging from saddles, saddle-straps, beads, strings and cowries, to items specifically exhibited for the human folks, the array of artifacts exhibited is just endless. Silver ornaments and bead necklaces from Nagaur, patchwork, printed textiles as well as the famous tie 'n' dye fabrics from Ajmer are a major attraction. Fashion however does not end here. The fair is also known for the varied body tattoos it offers. Since this is the time to gear up the town's otherwise slacking business, every household is seen to set up some or the other stall to allure the passing crowd. A rural bazaar that it is, one either has to walk or hire a camel while trotting around. There are food stalls as well. However, since Pushkar is a religious site, non-vegetarian food as well as alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Pushkar has an extreme climate. The maximum temperature during the summers can go up to 40-45oC while in the winters it can be below 10oC. There is not much rain during the monsoon. The best season to visit this place is in the winters (October to March).
Pushkar Fair is celebrated for five days from Kartik Ekadasi to Kartik Poornima. According to Hindu calendar, Kartik Ekadasi is the 11th lunar day (ekadashi) in the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month of Kartik, and Kartik Poornima is the full moon day or the 15th lunar day of Kartik. Kartik Poornima is the main day of the Pushkar Fair, and according to the legends, it's the day when Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake. On this day devotees take a bath in the Pushkar lake.