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"Photographers are like spiders. They dont come together often."- Eisenstaedt




Pushkar

Come November, the world descends on Pushkar in Rajasthan for the annual camel fair. This sacred, sleepy lakeside settlement, 138 km from Jaipur, turns into a blaze of colour in the desert, in a unique mix of religious and commercial activity.

LEGEND has it that Pushkar lake sprung into existence when Lord Brahma struck the demon, Vajra Nabha, with his weapon, a lotus flower, and one of the petals fell at Pushkar. Brahma is supposed to have performed a sacrifice at this lake and today a temple (the only one of its kind in India as Brahma does not have any temples) is dedicated to him. Thousands of Hindus visit Pushkar for a dip in the lake and worship at this temple during the four-day period of Kartik Purnima (full moon night) which coincides with the camel fair.

THE five-day fair brings a staggering number of camels, horses, cattle and sheep from all over Rajasthan. Itís a land where oneís status and wealth is measured in camels. Camels, horses and sheep are bought and sold and negotiation is a serious process with the turbanned owners describing the virtues of their beast to prospective buyers. Camels are decked out in mirrored patchwork, colourful beads and saddle straps, bathed and even perfumed. Let it not be said that a Rajasthani man does not love his camel. For entertainment there are camel races, musical chairs played by skilled riders on camels, and even a beauty contest for the animal.

ACCOMPANYING the animals are cattle traders, women in brightly coloured dresses and whole families who attend this annual event where they inhabit the barren plain with the desert and the camels as a backdrop. This mixed crowd and the tourists they attract turn the desert landscape into a riot of colour, smells and action. As the sun sets on the camp site, smoke can be seen rising from the innumerable camp fires and itís not long before one hears the sounds of folk music in the air.



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