Pushkar is one of the most popular holy places and it is also the venue for one of the world’s largest cattle fair. Sports, music and Bazaars are the highlight of this fair. One can also shop for the handcraft items in the streets of Pushkar during the fair.
Also known as Pushkar Maha Mela, this is the largest camel fair held in a small town in Ajmer district. The fair is celebrated for five days starting from Karthika Ekadashi to Karthika Poornima. Karthika Poornima is the main day of Pushkar Fair. It has turned into a massive attraction for tourists from across the globe. During this month, thousands of camels are bought, raced, sold and paraded.
This town of Pushkar has about 400 temples, the most popular one being the Brahma temple.
After the failure of the Mughal rule, the Rajput kings planned few measures on recovering the status of Pushkar Lake as well as the town. The British then started trading in this place and slowly introduced the cattle fair here in Pushkar. The revenue generated through these fairs was used to improve facilities at the lake and nearby areas. This fair slowly became popular around the globe and within few years, it has become the largest fair.
Legend Behind Pushkar Fair
Pushkar is the only place, where Brahma temple can be found. Legends say that Lord Brahma on his vehicle (Swan) flew over the earth. During his flight, he dropped petals of lotus and on the places where the petals landed; water bodies were formed to create lakes. He is said to have landed on Pushkar to run a “Yagna”. However, the priests could not perform it because of the absence of his wife, Savitri. Narada was sent to bring her. Brahma was afraid that the auspicious time to perform Yagna would pass away, so he married a local girl, Gayatri and then performed the Yagna. When Savitri arrived, she was so angry that she cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped in any place except Pushkar.
Pushkar fair is celebrated usually in the months of October/November depending on the moon cycle. This is celebrated for 5 days in the month of Karthika and full moon day is the important day of this festival. The festival starts with trading of camels and then shifts to religious celebrations like taking holy dips in the sacred lake of Pushkar.
The entire fair can be divided into three main heads and few sub heads. The first is the cattle fair. Camels, horses, sheep and cows are traded here. Race and strength competitions are held between the animals and there are prizes for the winners.
The second is the cultural fair. During this time, stalls are set up to cater the needs of both the humans and the cattle. The same day, puppet, folk dances and music shows are conducted.
Finally, it’s the day to take holy dip in the waters of Pushkar.
Pilgrims all over the world visit Pushkar at the time of the fair to take a dip in the holy waters of Pushkar and wash off their sins. The most important day to bathe is on the Karthika Poornima, which is a full moon day and it is believed that those who take holy bath on this day are blessed.
A large number of camels participate at this fair and all of them are cleaned, washed and decorated. There are also stalls, where one can buy jewellery for the camels. Camels are decorated with silver jewellery and beads. Also bells and bracelets are tied on to their ankles. Out of all these, the interesting ritual is piercing the nose of the camel.
On this day, ritual bathing takes place from 3 a.m., starting with the priests. When the sun rises, people start worshipping the lake. After the darshan (prayers), people gather around the priests who perform pujas. After few hours, the priests chant mantras and these are repeated by the devotees. This rite takes place for about 30 minutes.
Pushkar Fair Recipes
The visitors at Pushkar Fair are served vegetarian food because of its religious significance. There are also different varieties of continental and Indian treats available and one can surely enjoy the taste of food.
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