A country of varied culture and diverse tradition, India has always been an active platform of festivals and fairs either celebrating for some religious reasons or the seasonal variations. Whatever the reasons behind the commemorations are, the aim is to establish harmony and brotherhood among the people and of course fun. Fairs or melas are a very potent source of getting to know more about the culture, heritage and stories behind their being celebrated. Here is a list of some of the popular fairs of India which you mustn’t miss.
- Kumbh Mela, Uttar Pradesh: witnessing the world’s largest mass gathering, the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in every 3 years at one of these places- Haridwar, Nashik, Ujjain and Allahabad. It’s actually a mass pilgrimage where the devotees gather to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganga in Haridwar, Godavari in Nasik, Shipra in Ujjain and Sangam (convergence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Allahabad (Prayag). The frequency of the mela is that it rotates to the same site every 12 years. It is believed that by taking a dip in these sacred waters one is washed off his/her sins. The dates for this pious fair are decided according to the Hindu calendar and the principle of Indian astrology.
- Ambubachi Mela, Assam: one of the most important fairs, the Ambubachi or Ambubasi Mela of Kamakhya Dham is celebrated every year during the monsoon in the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of Goddess Kamakhya. Devotees from far and near gather to offer their prayers to the goddess. This year the mela took place from 22nd June to 25th The temple door remains closed for three days during the mela. During these three days, the devotees observe some restrictions such as not performing puja, farming, plucking flowers or cutting down trees. A huge gathering of sadhus and devotees, this mela is worth visiting.
- Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan: held annually in the town of Pushkar, Ajmer district in Rajasthan, the Pushkar fair is a five days camel and livestock fair. With the aim of trading the animals and the other livestock, this fair also serves platforms for several fun competitions like longest moustache, matka phod, and bridal competition and is popular among natives and tourists alike. Devotees also take dip into the sacred Pushkar Lake.
- Gangasagar Mela, West Bengal: held during the Makar Sankranti on 14th or 15th January every year, the Gangasagar Mela takes place in the Sagardwip Island some 128 kms away from Kolkata. Believed to be a source of salvation, devotees gather to take a bath in the holy waters. This mela is the second largest mela or the mass gathering after the Kumbh.
- Hemis Gompa Fair, Ladakh: celebrating the birthday of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibet Tantric Buddhism and spiritual leader in Hemis, Ladakh, the Hemis Gompa Fair is held every year in the month of July and lasts for two days. A colorful festival and an excellent display of the local handicrafts and arts, the fair is held in the courtyard of the main door of the monastery. Along with the colorful representation of the local artifacts, you can enjoy local masked dance and music at the festival. The dance performances signify the victory of good over evil. A must visit festival; the Hemis Gompa is popular among locals and tourists alike.
- Sonepur Mela, Bihar: one of the world’s largest animal fairs, the Sonepur Mela is held every year in the month of November on the day of the Kartik Poornima (full moon) in Sonepur in Bihar where the rivers Ganges and Gandak meet. You can enjoy this fair for a longer period of 15 days to one month. However, the mela not only witnesses trading of big animals like buffaloes, cows, elephants and horses but also dogs, sheep, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs etc. The history of this fair date back to the times of Chandragupta Maurya when used to buy elephants and horses.
These were some of the popular fairs of India which have being held since very ancient time and are still cherished with no cease of faith and fun. Do visit these fairs to witness the fair amount of fun and tradition and religious aspects attached to them which makes them even more inviting.