Friday, November 03, 2006

India: Pushkar Camel Fair

Ahh India... I don't even know where to start. Should I describe a typical street scene or the traditional dress or the strong religious culture or the amazing architecture??? What about the noises and smells? Frankly I could write a whole essay about the cows that wander around everywhere. I'm really starting to believe they are holy. They have a way of looking deep into my eyes!

Anyway, you get the idea. My brain here is constantly stimulated which makes it hard to sit back and reflect and then share. Too much to process.

Its funny because I think people think that travelling is a lazy vacation but in truth its hard work to really "see" the world. Every direction I look in is something worth attention and memory. And each place I visit has temples, palaces and forts that have deep history and much to learn about. I try so hard to soak everything in and then really try to process it for myself and to share what I see with all of you. My thoughts come from a combination of books I am reading, local papers and conversations I have with anyone I can find to talk to me.

Right now I am at the Pushkar Camel Fair. Pushkar is located in the Indian state of Rajastan. Its on the edges of the Thar Desert and camels are a main mode of transport. (You've probably seen the camel cart on my blog.) So... once a year nomads bring over 50,000 camels and other livestock (horses and cows) to sell. This little religious pilgrimage town goes from 16,000 to 200,000. Along
with the livestock fair coincides with a religious festival. The dunes are filled with turban covered nomads in tents with their livestock and at the same time the town's MANY temples are filled with Hindus here to celebrate the full moon on November 5th. Religious pilgrims come in by the truckload (overfilled like everything in India is!) They come from the rural countryside to wash in the holy lake here where Brahma, a revered god is said to have dropped petals from his famous lotus flower and left a lake in its place. In India there are many many pilgrimage sites and Hindus all go and celebrate there faith at them.

I can't really describe the color of all the saris jamming the streets. India is nothing if its not colorful and Rajastan is famous for its neon wearing people. (I loved the turbans in Afganistan but a neon pink or yellow turban just says something special!) And then there are the holy people who dress is orange and paint their faces. Really, I swear my eyes begin to hurt when looking at all the colors!!! Each face is more beautiful then the one that has just passed.

This fair has all the components of your local community fair like cotton candy, rides, music, stuff to buy, but then a herd of camels walks by and really, I ask you, what local fair have you been to with 50,000 camels all finely decorated for sale?? India does everything at 500% of anything I have ever seen before. (Oh wait! There goes a marching band banging away down the street besides this internet cafe.) Nothing is routine here!

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