Once a year, at Kartik Purnima, the full moon in the October-November lunar month, there are festivities in honour of the god Brahma. Thousands of pilgrims come to make offerings at the sacred lake in Pushkar and to pray at Jagatpita temple. This is also the occasion for one of the biggest livestock fairs in India: the famous Pushkar Camel Fair or Pushkar Mela, which attracts flocks of tourists and photographers from all over the world.
The date of the fair is approaching. Weary camel drivers hurry their herds along the roads towards Pushkar. Some have walked for hundreds of miles. They gather on Pushkar’s great dusty esplanade and put up the tents where they will live for the next month.
Here the camel drivers will sell or exchange more than 20,000 camels; Pushkar is one of the biggest camel fair in the world.
Although less important, sales of other livestock take place: sheep, goats and horses from Rajasthan including the famous “Marwari”.
The Pushkar fair shows different breeds of horses including the reputed Marwari breed. The Marwari horse is one of the five native breeds of India; it originates from the Marwar region of Rajasthan, from which it takes his name. The Marwari is a cross between hardy native ponies and the Arabian horse brought during the Mughal invasions.
The peculiarity of the Marwari horse is its inwardly curved, crescent moon shaped ears, a unique feature to equines.
The Rathores, Rajput chiefs of the Marwar region, were the first to raise the Marwaris, starting in the 12th century. These Horses were later used by Maharajas and in the cavalry, the Marwari being known for its endurance and flexibility of character.
“Chetak”, the steed of the Maharana of Udaipur (Udai Singh Pratap), is certainly India’s most famous Marwari horse. It is honored throughout Rajasthan for his bravery and loyalty.
In the bloody battle of Haldighati between the Rajput and Mughal armed forces, Chetak saved his master as an elephant’s tusk tore one of his hind legs. The valiant horse, far from giving up, continued on three legs and brought the injured Maharana Pratap to a safe place, before collapsing.
Nowadays, the Marwari is mainly used as a ceremonial horse during various festivities: adorned with decorations, it is the proud mount of the groom who comes to pick up his future wife. It is also the dancing horse of the fairs and festivals of Rajasthan.
The fair is also the occasion for typical Rajasthani folk festivities such as camel decoration contests, horse and camel races and a competition for the longest moustache. There are also magnificent concerts beside Lake Pushkar.
Although it is rather tourist-y, this fair is something to experience at least once in your life to soak up the culture of these desert folk.