25 May The Magic of the Pushkar Camel Fair, India
The dawning of a new day at the Pushkar Camel Fair
Rain during the night has brought a crispness and freshness to the air. The rain had the effect of settling the dust of the previous day as the camel cart trundles along in the pre dawn morning. From the looks of it many in the camp had an uncomfortable wet night . My trousers are damp from the the soggy cushions of the camel cart. So glad that the waiters brought my cup of chai this morning before I left the tented camp.
In the camel camp people awaken , woollen shawls tucked round their shoulders keeping the morning chill at bay. The scent of smoke drifts in the air from smoldering Camp fires. The flicker of flames flare as people set pots to boil on the camp fires for chai. The light of the flames glints of the gold earrings of the Raika cameleers as they squat around the camp fire warming themselves.
Rituals Begin at the Camel Fair
The ritual of feeding and watering of camels and horses begins. Many hurry to bargain and purchase their quota of feed for the day.
The sounds of Chanting and bells fill the air from the temple on the mountain. Camel carts are prepared for the days work of carting humans thru the grounds.
The Art of Bargaining
The art of bargaining for camels and horses between buyers and sellers commence. An intricate dance of words and intrigue so that all players are satisfied at the completion of the transaction.
Stone carvings, touts and snake charmers at the Pushkar Camel Fair
Touts , bangle sellers, snake charmers and musicians make an appearance ready to pounce upon the unexpected tourist.
I stand by the side of the dusty road chatting to my friend Adrith the stone carver tout . We are joined by the bangle seller and snake charmer. I warily glance at the snake basket. Immense relief courses through me that the lid is firmly shut and the horrid cobra is hopefully incapacitated by the chill of the morning.
Tourists glance curiously at me, probably thinking I am about to begin my touting for the day.
Adrith asks “Are you going to buy the stone carving” .
I reply ” I am not worthy to buy such a magnificent piece of workmanship “. Meaning even though it’s very beautiful I am not paying 300 US dollars for a soapstone buffalo.
” Oh please ” Adrith says .
I said jokingly ” I have little money on me. Ask the bangle seller if he will lend me some rupees”
A flurry of Hindi fly’s back and forth.
Adrith says ” Ok, the bangle seller has had a good few days and is happy to lend you the rupees”
I say “Thank him kindly for his offer but no! Listen I have 200 rupees on me and I want to buy the horse halter “
Adrith looks at me in horror and says “show me which one”. I show him a picture on my phone.
Adrith says ” Give me the money I will buy it you will only be ripped off” .
I pass Adrith the rupees and he strides off into the early morning crowd to purchase the halter. Well that’s the kettle calling the pot black!
I feel at the moment like a character in Rudyard Kiplings book ” Kim “
Raika Camel men
It is mid morning as the herd of young unruly camels stride down the road through the fair grounds. They are focused on following the lead camel who is right behind the Raika cameleer.
The cameleer with his long elegant stride seems to float across the ground. His bright turban is colourful against his gleaming white outfit. Gold earring in one ear , a small white bag with his possessions slung over one arm.
Fellow Cameleers box in the young camels on each side knowing full well that one fright could make them stampede through the camp and cause mayhem. They will have walked for hundreds of kilometres through the Thar Desert to come to the fair. Their arrival is noted and crowds line both sides of the road. Which in fact I think it is a little trusting with these unruly youthful camels.
Dusk falls on Pushkar Camel Camp
The soft pink glow of evening settles over the Pushkar camp. Many campfires twinkle in the lowering dusk. The camel men feed and water the camels. The trading of camels and Marwari horses comes to a halt. The frantic mania of the day subsides . Locals return home, touts, beggars and rabble of musicians and bangle sellers all disappear into the night. Most definitely in preparation for the next days perpetual annoyance of tourists. Their quest is in hope of fleecing a few rupees from their unwary targets.
Did I or did I not
Yes for those who are wondering, In fact I did end up buying from Adrith. Not his newly carved soap stone buffalo.I purchased a gorgeous very old intricate carved bowl which he was disparaging about. In such an old culture you sometimes forget that old is more precious then new. Adrith did say next time he hopes I will have saved my rupees for the buffalo.
In fact, Adrith did return with a very nice horse halter, better than the one in the photo I showed him. Kindness and honesty in all forms.
This is the magic of experiencing the Pushkar Camel Fair.
It is a ten day affair beginning with the trading of camels and horses. Followed by the fair ground attractions and ending with the sacred religious element centered around the Pushkar holy lake.
Well worth the experience.
Follow your Passions and Discover the UnknownSharyn Jackson