The Pushkar Fair, or Pushkar ka Mela, is an annual five-day camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan, India. Pushkar fair continues for five days and these five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers. This fair time is the busiest time for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, including over 50,000 camels, are brought from miles around to be traded and sold. It is one of the world’s largest camel fairs, and apart from buying and selling of livestock it has become an important tourist attraction and its highlights have become competitions such as the “matka phod”, “longest moustache”, and “bridal competition” are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists. 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 jewellery for the camels. . Camels at the Pushkar fair are decorated with great care. They wear jewellery of silver and beads. There are silver bells and bangles around their ankles that jangle when they walk. 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 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, full of 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 is the test of how the camel is able to bring the items. In order to demonstrate, the men go up on the group of camels one after another. It is celebrated for five days from the Kartik ekadashi to Kartik Poornima, the full moon day of Kartik in Hindu calendar. The full moon day is the main day and the day, according to legend, when the Hindu god Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake, thus numerous people swim in its sacred waters. Countless people in their colourful attire gather to take a dip in the Holy Lake and pray to the deities. The whole town comes alive with vibrant folk music and dances, magic shows, horse and camel races and various other traditional entertainment competitions. Pushkar, with more than 12 local fairs and festivals of 10 –15 days duration is a year round destination. It is a mellow town by the great lake of Pushkar amidst the perfume of jasmine and rose flowers. About 4,000 to 6,000 visitors from all over the world come to Pushkar everyday.
Pushkar is situated 14 km northwest of Ajmer at an average elevation of 510 m and is one of the five sacred dhams or pilgrimage site for devout Hindus. It is also one of the oldest existing cities of India and lies on the Shore of Pushkar Lake. The date of its actual origin is not known, but legend associates Lord Brahma with its creation. Pushkar has many temples. Most of the temples are not very old because many temples were destroyed during Muslim conquests in the area. The natural environment of Pushkar and the sacred lake has become increasingly degraded in the last few decades. The problems stem mainly from over-development of tourist facilities and the deforestation of the surrounding area.
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