India is known for its one-of-its-kind fairs and festivals and most of them are either held to celebrate seasonal changes or religious fairs. A lot of big fairs are organized at the main pilgrimage places and Kumbh Mela witnesses largest number of people gathering from different parts of the world. Kolkata Book Fair is the third largest annual book fair of the world and the largest non-trade book conglomeration in the world. Sonepur Livestock Fair is Asia’s largest cattle fair and the largest animal fair in the world. India houses several religious festivals and fairs and there is a festival every year at different places of India. Here are some of the huge religious fairs in India you should know about.
It is the biggest religious fair and witnesses the largest number of Hindu pilgrims gathered. It is celebrated at 4 holy places in every 12 years – Haridwar, Prayag in Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. The fair is held on rotation on the banks of holy rivers Kshipra, Godavari, The Ganges and Yamuna. Hindu pilgrims gather in this big fair to take holy bath at the Ganges. The procession of Holy Men, Naga Sadhu and Akharas are the major attractions. It is the world’s largest peaceful gathering and millions of pilgrims take holy bath on major bathing dates. At one of the above holy places, it is held in every 3rd year on rotation. On February 14, 2013, it is reported that around 80 million people gathered in Allahabad Kumbh mela.
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It is held on the full moon day (Karthik Purnima), usually in November. It is held in Sonepur, Bihar on the banks of River Gandak and Ganges. It hosts the largest livestock fairs of the world. The Asia’s biggest cattle fair is held from 15 days to 1 month. This month-long fair witnesses the trade of camels, elephants, buffaloes, cows, dogs, horses, rabbits, sheep, birds and guinea pigs. The fair has long-back history of the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya who used to buy horses and elephants.
It is 5-day livestock and camel fair which is held every year in Pushkar of Ajmer District. It is one of the largest camel and livestock fairs in the world. Thousands of livestock buyers and dealers gather her and huge numbers of horses, camels and cattle are traded. Some of the major attractions are some unusual competitions like “bridal competition”, “longest moustache competition” and “Matki Fod”. Hindu pilgrims are also gathered in thousands to dip in the holy Pushkar Lake. Every year, over 50000 camels are decorated, sold, raced and shaved.
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The Kapil Muni Fair is the largest fair in Bikaner and it is scheduled on Karthik Poornima. Kolayat is the historical pilgrimage centre where the body of Kapila, a Vedic sage, is known to have shed under Peepal Tree. All the 52 Ghats are vividly crafted during the Kolayat Fair. It has the same significance as living at any holy place for 10 years. It is usually held to celebrate the birth of Ganges. Thousands of lighted lamps floating over the lake are the major center of attractions.
It is held to celebrate the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, the spiritual leader and the creator of Tibet Tantric Buddhism in Leh. It is celebrated on every fifth month’s 10th day of Tibetan lunar calendar. It is a 2-day fair and it is known as the vivid and huge fair. The pre-Lamaism priests initiate the solemn parade and they are dressed in rich robes of brocade with tufted hats and china silk.
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It is the well-known tribal fair which is held every year in Dungarpur District. Baneshwar refers to the “Master of the Delta” which comes from the Shiva Linga which is worshipped in the Dungarpur’s Mahadev Temple. This religious fair is celebrated according to the traditional and simple rituals. From January to February, people of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan who belong to Bhil community gather here every year at the banks of Som and Mahi Rivers. It echoes with the folk dances, fun of songs, animal shows, magic shows and acrobatic feats.
Chandrabhaga Mela or Magha Saptami is one of the well-known festivals in February. It is set aside for the Sun God’s worship at Konark. It is held around 6 km from Jhalawar, at Jhalarapatan, in the month of full moon night (Kartik Poornima). It is one of the most vivid and popular festivals where millions of pilgrims gather there to witness the fest.
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It is the largest fair held on the Sundarban Islands in West Bengal. It is located around 80 km from Kolkata. On Makar Sankranti, it is held every year and attracts devotees from across the nation. Pilgrims gather here to take very sacred dip in the water during Gangasagar Mela on January14 (Makar Sankranti). This day, sun transfers from Sagittarius to Capricorn. The bath turns the holy source of salvation.
It is one of the well-known festivals and fairs celebrated in the country. It is held every year in Kamakhya Temple during monsoon at Guwahati and it falls during Ahaar, an Assamese month, around the mid of June. Thousands of pilgrims gather here from different places in India.
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It holds the special presence in Rajasthan. It is held in honor of the goddess of abundance, Mata Gauri. Here, young girls in their best dresses pray for their desired spouse and the married ones pray for the goodness of their partners. It is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm across Rajasthan. It is celebrated at Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Nathdwara. At the auspicious moment in afternoon, the procession of women is taken to the tank, garden or well with pictures of Gauri and Isar on the heads of married ladies. Then, they sing the songs about Gauri’s departure to the house of her husband.