It is said that if you want to see India in its most colorful, quirky and eclectic form, then you must visit the grand fairs and festivals of India that present India in its truest and most unadulterated form. Well, no, we’re not talking about the westernized Leather Expo or the book fairs and the film festivals that are held around the country in various forms. We’re here talking about the quirky Indian fairs that have carried on with it an old-world charm and aura that is essentially rustic desi. Let’s look at some of those typical fairs of India—
8. Sonepur Mela
Also known as the Harihar Chhatra Mela, the Sonepur Mela is the biggest cattle fair in the world and is held on a full moon day in November, in Bihar, at the confluence of the river Gandak and Ganges. If you visit this fair, you’ll see various sections have been made there with each of those sections devoted to the sale of different kinds of animals. The biggest draw of this section is the Haathi Bazaar—it’s one of its kind where you’ll find elephants being put up for sale! If you love to go on clicking or are interested in knowing India in its most nascent aspect, do visit this fair.
7. Hemis Gompa Festival
One of the most auspicious and special festivals for the Buddhists in India, Hemis Gompa Festival takes place in Ladakh, in and around Hemis Gompa which is renowned as the world’s largest Buddhist Monastery. Held in the first week of July, at this fair, the Buddhist monks all over the world celebrate the triumph of good over evil—a celebration that is indeed a spectacular instance to witness! Besides, the vivid and colorful costumes and dance forms that are put up at the fair are indeed a special treat.
6. Chandrabhaga Mela
Also known as the Magha Saptam Mela, the Chandrabhaga fair is a colorful fair held in the state of Odisha, at the Chandrabhaga beach in the Puri district. According to the legend, the Chandrabhaga river, which remains out of sight for the whole year, bursts into life during this particular time—the full moon phase of Magh (February) of the Hindu Calendar, and brings pilgrims and photographers from different parts of the country to visualize this divine spectacle.
5. Tarnetar Mela
A visit to this fair, also known as the Trinetrashwar Mahadev Mela, will take you down to the epoch of kings and grand knights. You seem a bit confused, eh? Well, here you go! This mela, held around the Trinetreshwar Mahedev temple, is mainly recognized nowadays as the “marriage fair”—yes, you hear me right—where youth donning colorful dresses, go out to seek their prospective brides. It’s more like a swayamvar for the tribal people of Gujarat, and is indeed a grand event to witness!
4. Poush Mela
Poush Mela, held in the cultural sphere of Bengal, in Shantiniketan, has no religious significance whatsoever. Held in the month of “poush” according to the Hindu Calendar, the Poush Mela is a exquisitely colorful affair, which binds the rustic tribals and the sophisticated urban intellectuals in one string! If you want to savor the true charm of rustic Bengal, along with the Baul song and dance sequences and devour yourself into some serious junk shopping, then this is your place.
3. Gangasagar Mela
The second biggest fair in India, after Kumbha Mela, the Gangasagar Mela is held in during Poush Sankranti where pilgrimages from around the world meet to take an early morning dip in the auspicious conglomeration of Ganges and the Bay of Bengal (and, hence the name, Ganga Sagar), followed by a visit to the Kapil Muni Ashram which is opened only for a couple of days in the whole year!
2. Pushkar Mela
Think any “Indian” fair, think Pushkar Mela. This vividly colorful, rhythmic and grand fair, held at Pushkar, in Rajasthan, is the biggest camel fair in the country and attracts people from all over the world! If you’re there, be prepared to witness some of the greatest and weirdest spectacles ever, like the moustache twirling competition, hot air balloon flying competition and the biggest “jalebi” competition! Yes—in short, be prepared to witness life!
1. Kumbha Mela
Is there anything to say about this fair, which is held once every four years in different spiritual centers of the country? The largest conglomeration of people, Kumbha Mela is held at the confluence of different rivers or at the banks of the Ganges—the pious river to the Indians. If you’re there, just recharge your camera fully, that’s all we can say!