The province declares and commemorates its religious and social values through these fairs and festivals, which is a phenomenal enigma in India. Transforming the deserts’ monochrome backdrop to colour and merriment in Rajasthan, the fairs and festivals here are celebrated with grandeur and majesty, exhibits a wide range of local flavours and of course handicrafts.
Held each November at the time of the Kartik Purnima full moon, Pushkar Camel Fair is one of India’s most highly-rated travel experiences, a spectacle on an epic scale, attracting 300,000 people and up to 50,000 camels, cattle and horses.
Every November, the normally tranquil lakeside town of Pushkar changes completely thanks to the camel festival. At other times of the year the character is very different as the small town welcomes pilgrims who come to pay their respects by the sacred lake at the heart of the town.
Thousands of colourful Rajasthanis come to trade and race camels or to enjoy the annual celebrations as the desert transforms into a huge tented city. The festivities are concentrated during a one week period but the days preceding the fair are just as exciting as the participants arrive from all corners of Rajasthan.
People come from all over the world to see the fair and locals come from all over the region, some walking with their livestock for three weeks straight across the desert just to get there. Although the small town of 15,000 has many options for accommodation, these tend to fill up quickly.
The official fair lasts five days, although herders and traders begin arriving to the area with their livestock and wares about a week before. During this time the camels are dressed up, paraded, shaved, entered into beauty contests, raced and traded. Negotiations over the sale of camels, horses, and more take several days with the seller holding out for the best offer.
Interestingly, the best prices offered also happen to be in years when the monsoon has been good. Besides being one of the biggest traditional festivals in the world there are also many other events that take place during the fair. From longest-moustache competitions, camel races and musical performances and even a cricket match between locals and tourists. The Pushkar Camel Fair has also become known as a meeting place where marriages are quite often arranged.
Pushkar is also one of the oldest existing cities in India and is home to one of five sacred pilgrim sites of devout Hindus. They come to this festival to bathe in the holy waters of Pushkar's lake and be absolved of their sins. The two days around the full moon are considered to be the most auspicious time of the year for bathing in the lake.
Those who bathe on the day of the full moon are said to receive special blessings. Especially at night, the festival comes to life with numerous enticing traditional dances and folk music to make you feel that you belong to some other dynamic world. You are sure to get immensely delighted when this place showcases a divine spiritual feel with thousands of sparkling lamps lit on leaves and left on the Sarovar Lake to float, giving the impression as if the stars have come down on earth.
The Pushkar Fair is, undeniably, a feast for the eyes which should not be missed.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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