CAMELS AND OTHER ANIMALS OF PUSHKAR FAIR: THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY! 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 camels and other animals like horses of Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. It’s a cattle fair after all! Incredible India!
Camels are the biggest draw at the Pushkar fair. The foreign tourists lapped up the touristy camel rides and the grin on their faces told me they were even enjoying the mad rides in the sweltering heat of Rajasthan hinterland. I personally never take a camel ride or ride on any animal for that matter. I find it unethical. Humans are not supposed to use animals as vehicles. Period!
The families hopped on to another version of camel ride on a cart with a ‘room’ created on a wooden plank on the rear of the cart. The room was embellished with knick knacks and decorated in ethnic Rajasthani tradition, alongwith curtains.
The poor camel had the onus to pull this makeshift home and its temporary inhabitants in all sizes and forms. Personally, I find camel ride and other animal rides unethical and have always advised people to boycott it.
The camels which were employed for the ‘entertainment’ of the tourists were painted in curious camel art. Their skin was shaved in interesting patterns such as moon, sun, mountains etc. The most outrageous though was a Giant ‘Merry Go Round’ painted on the poor camel. Perhaps to go with the Pushkar fair theme.
Painting on their body in black ink was also popular. Incongruous motifs were painted on them such as peacocks, faces, and sceneries. I saw ‘Ram Ram Sa’ written on one. It’s a way of greeting in Rajasthan. Tail art was also very prominent. Some were even wearing ‘ghunghroo’ in their legs. No stones were left unturned to doll them up so as to grab maximum eyeballs which translate into business.
Coming back to the stadium area, I saw a mob gathering around a tall sturdy horse. He looked majestic in his shiny golden brown coat. He was a very well built muscular horse. What made him more attractive was his shiny golden mane and hair falling on the forehead.
But instead of basking in the glory he got intimidated with all the attention and started jumping. He was made to parade in front of the prospective buyers. Before things could go out of hand, the owner brought him to control.
He particularly got irked when his prospective buyers started touching his testicles repeatedly. Wonder why? My guess is it their way of judging the quality of the horse. My guess was this particular horse must have fetched a handsome amount.
Though the Pushkar fair belongs to predominantly camels but a high quality horse will anyday fetch much higher price than a camel would dream of. While a camel may be sold for between Rs.20,000 to 40,000/- a horse’s price range is more dramatic, falling in the range of Rs.15,000 to an astronomical Rs.400,000/- How do you determine the quality and price? Factors like age, skin quality, hair, fitness, condition of muscles etc. count here. So, a lot is at stake here!
My eyes settled at a horse struggling to adjust the fodder bag. His upper jaw had somehow come out of the bag while lower jaw remained inside the bag. Not only was he not able to eat it but it was also an irritating situation for him to be in. The XL size heart that I am the owner of, I helped the poor chap re-adjust it and he chomped merrily ever after.
Then suddenly I saw a black dog standing in peace in the middle of all the chaos. He stared at me and made me gloomy as he reminded me of my black Pomeranian pet Henry (aka Hen) who passed away recently due to old age. His face and mannerisms matched with that of Hen. It was amusing to see that in this cattle dominated fair , there were many dog owners, who pampered and loved their dogs despite being poor themselves.
There were all kinds of cattles there, old, weary, experienced, inexperienced. For many animals it was their 1st Pushkar fair. I could see a lot of baby horses and some baby camels. But for some, it was their last.
My heart saddened at the sight of a crow feasting on a freshly dead camel. Perhaps, he was too old to take the arduous journey to Pushkar. The medical facilities for animals were not up to the mark either. I could also see a lot of camel bones scattered around in the camp site area, revealing the unsaid state of animals.
Most animals I saw were made to stand in harsh sun for hours. Few lucky ones got the shade. There were huge cemented drinking troughs for cattle from where all animals quenched their thirst. However, some cattle owners also used it to wash themselves and their utensils etc. Eeewww!
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