Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Pushkar Camel Fair

The central tenet of the Pushkar Camel Fair was originally a Hindu religious celebration, coming at a time of a full moon in November (usually). However, over the years, this site of pilgrimage had people from all over India flocking to the town with camels and cattle for a three day market- in which the animals were traded. So now, in a blaze of tourist brochure colour, religion and tradition, the population of Pushkar swells from 14,000 people to over 200,000 for the week’s festivities with tourists from all over the world joining pilgrims and traders from India in Pushkar. It is a week of enduring images- from huge areas containing thousands of camels, often adorned in multi coloured cloths and jewels being traded throughout the day, to the camp fires at night, blazing under the midnight hue of the moon.

But it is a time for fun too- tug of wars between locals and tourists abound, as do camel races and camel loading events- a king of camel Olympics- where locals try and load a camel with as many people as possible.
And at the heart, too, is the religious festival, as many saddhu’s bathe in the sacred waters of Pushkar’s lake. On the final day of the full moon, such religious rituals are accompanied by the banging of drums and the singing of songs and chants to the sight of thousands of the devoted bathing in the lake.


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