One of my main reasons for coming to India on this trip was to visit the Pushkar Camel Fair. It’s one of those events that I heard about a few years ago and it kind of lingered in the back of my brain for a while before resurfacing when I was working out where I might go after Cambodia. For the uninitiated, it was originally an event which saw camel traders come from far afield to wheel and deal (or should that be hoof and deal?) before heading back from whence they came. Now camel dealers love to have a good time so parties would break out, and over time other events sprang up around the trading. Nowadays most of the trading happens in the first week and the second week or so is almost wholly given over to the fun and games of the official Pushkar Camel Mela.
It started with a less than inspiring opening ceremony consisting of an overly long welcome to a group of local officials. However, once that was done there was a spectacular dance display.
The football match with foreigners followed, which I covered in another post here:
The rest of the programme was a bizarre mix to say the least. Commercial balloon flights and camel rides seem perfectly normal. But a camel decorating contest (involving both the adornment of bling on the camels and the shaving of patterns into the camel fur)? Well, why not?
What about camel dancing? Like a cross between horse dressage and Pudsey the Dog from Britain’s Got Talent – there’s a great reference for any international readers 🙂
Then there’s the Kabbadi match against foreigners (a game I still don’t understand and swear most of the foreigners team probably didn’t either), moustache contest, female only water carrying contest (think egg and spoon but on a much larger, wetter scale), the Voice of Pushkar singing contest (unfortunately for humans, not camels), and a few local games, one of which involved hopping on one leg and trying to barge your opponents over. Last man hopping wins. All this happens in the showground which is surrounded by stalls selling camel decorations, ice-cream, trinkets and the like. Beyond that are the horse salesmen (which were almost banned this year for not being camelly enough, no seriously) and the camels themselves either waiting for their turn to shine (sometimes literally), waiting to be sold, or just hanging out with their mates chewing the cud.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole madness of it. Even if you’re not a massive fan of camels there’s enough entertainment to ensure that nobody gets the hump – and for anyone who thought I was going to resist the urge for at least one camel related pun in this post, you clearly don’t know me very well 🙂