Once a year, the people in India travel across hundreds of kilometers of arid desert to attend the Pushkar Fair in the state of Rajasthan. Though it’s best known as the world’s largest camel fair, Pushkar is a burst of dazzling styles, colors, shopping, and more, as Hindu pilgrims converge for a holy dip in the sacred Pushkar Lake and pay obeisance at the world’s only Brahma temple.
In the holy waters of the lake, you must remove your shoes, you can’t smoke, and you shouldn’t photograph anyone bathing there. The mystical waters can wash away the sins of a lifetime and are also believed to cure skin diseases, making Pushkar the Lourdes of the East.
During the annual fair, camels, horses, cows, goats and sheep are bought and sold. But everyone wants to see the camel races –– as hundreds of people drive their camels here annually from all directions. After that, they enjoy the camel beauty contest, followed by the “laadoo oonth” event to see how much weight a camel can carry, as man after man clambers onto a camel’s back, each clutching the other to retain the collectively precarious position.
Finally, the Pushkar Fair culminates in the Kartik Purnima, the day of ritual oblation. After bathing, devotees line up in long colourful queues to take their turn to worship the Creator, Brahma.