A perfect amalgamation of culture and colours comes alive in all its glory at the Pushkar Mela which is held in Pushkar- a small desert town in Rajasthan. Also known as Pushkar Camel Fair or Pushkar ka Mela or Kartik Mela, it takes place over a period of 8 to 9 days in the month of November during the full moon. This annual fair is the largest fair of camel and livestock in the country and is known for two things- livestock trading which is the primary purpose of this fair and religious pilgrimage being the second.
At Pushkar Mela around 40,000-50,000 camels are brought together, exhibited and sold. Due to the high tourist appeal of this fair, traders travel to this town, mostly Rajasthani and Gujarati traders. They bring a wide range of items like clothes, shoes, jewellery, paintings, etc, to be sold in the fair. This fair is a witness to the largest tribal gathering.
The first six days are dedicated to the Pushkar Cattle Fair, where all the cattle trading happens. The next two days are for the Pushkar Cultural Fair where the town sees colourful and interesting cultural activities like the local music performances, folk dances and many other cultural activities. The last day is considered as a spiritual day reserved for the religious who wish to take a dip in the Pushkar Lake and perform other religious customs.
History and Origin of the Mela
Pushkar also becomes a place of holy pilgrimage in the month of November during Kartik Purnima Festival or the full moon. In Hindu mythology, it is said that Lord Brahma had released a swan with a lotus in its beak and the place where the lotus was dropped became scared as a huge yagna was performed by Lord Brahma. The sacred place came to be known as Pushkar which literally means ‘ blue lotus flower’.
Ever since Pushkar became a sacred place of worship for Hindus, devotees have come here to cleanse their sins by taking a dip in the Pushkar Lake making offerings to about 400 temples spread across the town. Devotees in huge numbers come to Pushkar every year from all across the globe to participate in the festivities and religious customs while tourists come here to experience one of India’s many cultures and observe its religious customs.
Things to do at the Mela
There are a plethora of activities that are fun-filled and interesting which one can look forward to in the Pushkar Mela. Many activities and competitions like Longest Moustache, Bridal and Groom Competitions, Matka Tod Race, Camel Dance and many more become the point of attention here. From enjoying the aerial view of the Mela in a hot air balloon to taking a camel safari, which is a must-thing to do in Rajasthan, there are others like paramotoring and quad biking.
For shopaholics, Shilpgram Handicrafts Bazaar is the place to be. Set up by rural artisans, this Bazaar is a great stop to take back memories of the fair in the form of souvenirs and ethnic trinkets. This place is known for its handcrafted jewellery like silver wrist and arm bangles and earrings, beautiful paintings, hand-made puppets, indigenous embroidered clothes, leather shoes, embroidered juttis and many more unique things.
Fairs and festivals become the perfect playground for photographers and cinematographers. This mela enables them to capture the fair through your lens and display their vision at competitions held at the mela called Frame the Fair, a photography competition organized by E Factor Entertainment and Rajasthan Tourism.
Few Interesting facts about the Mela
- A camel race marks the beginning of the Pushkar Mela.
- Deepdan, a ceremony where visitors set off several lid lamps made of clay are set off at dusk on leaf boats. This takes place on the last day of the festival.
- Camels are decorated, tattooed with paints and at times shaved to achieve beautiful designs that will attract buyers.
Pushkar Mela has a global appeal that attracts thousands across the world every year. Tourists who visit only wish to get submerged into the local culture and adorn themselves with local attires. This mela speaks in volumes of colour and culture and offers an experience of a lifetime.
To know more about fair and festivals, traditional and folk cultures of India, do check our communities that are all about Indian culture.