Pushkar: The Pushkar Fair (Pushkar Camel Fair) or locally referred to as the Pushkar ka Mela has begun today.
The annual five-day camel and livestock fair is held in the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan.
It has been described as one of the world`s largest camel fairs. Apart from the buying and selling of livestock, the fair is also an important tourist attraction. Competitions such as the "matka phod", "longest moustache", and "bridal competition" are the main draws of this fair.
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 popularity of this fair can be gauged by the fact that 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 to purchase 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 event is the test of how a camel is able to carry the items loaded onto it. In order to demonstrate, the men go up on the group of camels one after another.
The fair lasts from the time of Kartik Ekadashi to the time of Kartik Poornima, the full moon day (the 15th) of Kartik (October-November) in Hindu calendar.
The full moon day is the main day, as according to legend, the Hindu god Brahma sprung up from the Pushkar Lake. Today, as in the past, people from all walks of life bathe in the sacred waters of the lake before heading to the only temple in India dedicated to Brahma situated above the water body.
Over 5,000 animals have reached the ground. The Shilpgram Handicraft market will start in evening and a Deepdan or offering of floating candle wicks at the 52 ghats (embankments) of Pushkar Lake will be done.
Various programs will also be organised at the ground till November 14, when the fair ends.