Also known as Pushkar ka
Mela, Pushkar Fair, is the worlds largest camel fair held in the holy
town of Pushkar in Rajasthan. Pushkar Fair is undoubtedly the world's
largest camel fair and it also makes it world's largest cattle fair in
general. Competitions such as the "Matka Phod", "moustache", and
"bridal competition" are the main attractions of this fair which
attracts thousands of tourists. A spotlight of one's holiday in India,
the festival hosts around 50,000 camels which are sold, decorated,
shaved and raced. From a mere 14,000 to a massive 200,000! This is how
the population of Pushkar swells during the Pushkar Fair.
The picturesque lake of Pushkar is set in a valley just about 11
kilometres 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 colourful
clothes and finery for the five-day mela.
Like Varanasi, 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 collect 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
On the roadside, stalls of all kinds are set up to sell a cornucopia
of items. Almost every household is engaged in setting them up as the
locals try to capitalize on the massive influx of people. It is
impossible to drive around because of the large crowds. Either you
hire a camel or you walk. In this aspect, it is truly a rural bazaar.
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 with their humped beasts. Over 25,000
camels (on the conservative side) are traded; making this world's
largest camel fair.
Since Pushkar is a religious place alcohol and non-vegetarian food is
Pushkar Fair - Rituals and Traditions
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 ritual is the
piercing of a camel's nose.
Races and competitions are organized. Camels lope across the sands
sometimes throwing their riders on to the vast sands, amidst cheers
and jeers from thousands of spectators. 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
It is believed that for five days every year, all the gods visit
Pushkar and bless the devout. This accounts for the unbelievable
number of devotees who flock to the lake to wash away their sins.