THE COLORFUL MARKETS OF PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN- INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. I traveled solo in shoestring budget to Pushkar fair. Check out all my blogs in the series which apart from many interesting aspects of Pushkar fair, lists down information like – Best time to go to Pushkar, Best things to eat in Pushkar Fair, How to reach Pushkar Fair, Offbeat things to do in Pushkar etc. This blog is about the vibrant and colorful markets of Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. It’s annual cattle fair after all! Incredible India!
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SOAP OPERA DRAMA MUCH ON STREETS OF PUSHKAR, RAJASTHAN!
I spent all day exploring the shopping scene of Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan, India. But before I could do that a man yelled at me in excitement, “Safed daadhi, idhar aayiye, aapka ilaaj hai mere paas” (Hey, white stubble, come to me. I have the panacea of your woes.”) Confused/sad/angry/befuddled I said my ‘No Thanks!’ (I love my salt and pepper beard.) but to no avail.
He still persisted and I laughed out loud when in a final desperate attempt, he stood up aggressively and yelled, pointing finger to me, “Aapko meri kasam!”Not knowing what hit me and visibly flabbergasted, I proceeded towards the main market area. He was also selling some dubious freaky looking ‘jadi-booti’.
COLORFUL ANIMAL MERCHANDISE AT PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
There were primarily two kind of things being sold in the Pushkar fair. Most of the shops aimed the local villagers and stocked practical daily use items. After all, Pushkar was originally a cattle fair. It’s only now that it has become this huge monster of an event.
Pics above (L to R) : Rake, hardware, hukkah for sale at Pushkar fair, Rajasthan, India
The other shops are aimed at the gullible tourists, their eyes wide with all the exotica around.
The villagers who still come to trade here are unperturbed by the touristy frills that Pushkar fair breeds. While Pushkar Fair might be an extravaganza of sensory delights to the urban Indian and foreign tourists, the focus of locals is their business.
Thus, mostly cattle related items like camel faux ‘choti’,camel jewellery, chains, straps, leashes, and other utilitarian and decorative products were sold in the al fresco shops in Pushkar fair.
OLD WORLD MARKETS STILL EXIST IN PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
It was indeed interesting to move around the old world style ‘haat’ aka ‘bazaars’ (markets). India, centuries ago must have looked like this, I contemplated. There were options galore to buy.
Makeshift tents selling cosmetics, clothes, bags, CDs, jewelleries, tools (yes even a screw driver), food, utensils, soft toys, farming equipments, hukkah, animal accessories and other such cheap knick knacks dotted the streets. You name it, they got it! Being a non shopper, I didn’t buy anything.
SCAM ALERT: A SUPER EXPENSIVE HUKKAH (SHEESHA) AT PUSHKAR FAIR!
Though my eyes were set on a mud ‘hukkah’, but the price the vendor quoted sent me in a tizzy. A whopping INR 700/- for mud and metal? No dude, thank you very much! Needless to say it was the ‘Festival’ price, aimed mainly at gullible foreigners and well pocketed Delhi travellers. My room mates in Mumbai who hails from a village near Varanasi, told me sometimes back that such ‘hukkas’ are available in his village for a throw away Rs.50/-.
AN INTERESTING GAME I PLAYED AT PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
But before rushing to the Ajmer to catch a bus to Udaipur, I took a ride on the merry-go-round aka Giant Wheel. The last time I did it was some 5 years ago. Solo travelhas its moments of boredom.
I had a game in my mind to entertain myself. I decided that every time I went up on the wheel , I will think of one of the most happiest moments of my life and every time the wheel went down, I will think of the most sad moments of my life, thereby assessing the happiness graph of my life. It had to be done in a jiffy, with little time to think as the wheel was moving really fast.
To my surprise, I got the great epiphany that I had led a blessed life till now as I took less time to think of happy moments compared to the sad ones. At times, I struggled to recall sad moments. Though the sad moments were really sad and tragic ones but I had more happy ones to cherish.
I keep complaining about my life but that day I realised I didn’t really have much to complain. By the way, the Giant Wheel in Pushkar is a must do. It gives you a bird’s eye view and you can get some nice aerial shots of the fair. So a night ride and a day ride is a must here!
HANDS UP OR I WILL SHOOT YOU! ONLY AT PUSHKAR FAIR!
Upon returning from Udaipur, I loitered around aimlessly at Pushkar fair again. I overheard someone saying, “Khabardaar, agar bhaagne ki koshish ki to bandook chala doonga!”(Beware! I’ll shoot if you try to run!) I looked left, right, centre to find out from where this threat was coming.
Turned out, the sound was coming from a tent. I peeped inside hesitantly and saw some 20 young people seated on the floor and watching a trashy Bollywood film from the 80s on a huge colour T.V. It was paid and they had regular shows. Outside the tent a super angry Sunny Deol (Bollywood’s home grown Sylvester Stallone) in a Sikh turban was threatening to hit you hard with his ‘dhai kilo ka haath’(A hand weighing 2 and a half kgs.) Impressive enough! It was a housefull showconsidering the clout and fan following of Sunny Deol and his histrionics in North India!
Drum sounds and fancily dressed people distracted me from the madari show. I rushed to the spot with my camera to where the main action was.
WHEN HINDU GODS DESCENDED IN THE STADIUM OF PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
Locals dolled up as Hindu mythological characters and even as peacocks and other animals and regaled the tourists in the Pushkar fair stadium. A Hindu carnival of sorts! The scene stealer was Lord Krishna, who spun a steel plate on his index finger.
The plate had flowers and it showered on the unsuspecting tourists as he spun it. The ‘Lord Shiva’ on the other hand, played with his damruas his pet snake (dummy) rested on his neck.
I was surprised to see a Rajasthani dancer whom I had seen earlier in Kala Ghoda Arts festival, Mumbai , 2011. I instantly recognised him maybe because he wore same outfits and make up. I asked him, “You performed in Kala Ghoda, right?” He smiled and nodded in affirmation. He was equally surprised and maybe secretively patting his back for this temporary celebrity status I conferred on him.
To entertain the crowd there was a fun ‘Kutchi Ghodi dance’where a man enters a lifesize horse dummy and dances to traditional but upbeat and peppy Rajasthani tunes. The tunes and the enthusiasm of the dancer is such that even a non dancer will be hypnotised to dance. And the crowd did enjoy it, esp. the foreigners who even danced with the dancer team.
RURAL ENTERTAINMENT AT ITS BEST AT PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
Myriad activities were going on simultaneously in the Pushkar fair stadium. While some of the activities were organised and were available on the festival calendar, many were impromptou gigs by the local talent. The ‘Baazigar’ show, it turned out, was the most popular.
The teenaged girl performed Circus like acts in a corner of the open stadium. Her family of 5 which managed her performances sat by her side. Their livelihood was dependent on the girl’s talent.
Some of the acts which she did was lying down and getting up on and from a table without allowing the bottle on her forehead to fall. And of course, the ‘ramp walk’ on the tight rope. Pushkar fair sure is one of its kind of festivals in India.
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