Decorated One-humped Arabian or Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedaries) at Pushkar camel and livestock fair. Pushkar, Rajasthan. INDIA
The camels arrive imaginatively sheared and tatooed to participate in the festivities. Since camels are not easy to distinguish - some traditional tattoos called Kheeng have been evolved. These help herders identify their camels with ease. Black henna or ink is normaly used but permanent marks are also made with the handles of large ladles heated on fire. These marks combined with Moondra-the decorative motives cut out of the hair give each camel its unique look. Added to these are personalized or regional fashions for the saddlery and trapping of his herd which remain the choice of each camel owner. These long elaborate necks give plenty of space for necklaces and bells. The noses are often adorned with nose rings and the legs with bells.
This fair takes place in the Hindu month of Kartik (October / November) ten days after Diwali (Festival of Lights). Pushkar has always been the the region's main market for herdsman and farmers buying and selling camels, horses, indigenous breeds of cattle and even elephants. Over the years this annual trading event has increased in volume to become one of the largest in Asia. Temporary tents and campsites suddenly appear to accomodate the thousands of pilgrims, villagers and tourists. Entertainers and contests abound and a festive funfair atmosphere prevails over Pushkar during the Mela's 2 week duration. Thousands of men come first with their camels, horses and cattle and camp on the dunes to transact business. 3 days before the full moon the women arrive beautifully attired. The 12 day fair culminates in a religious Hindu pilgrimage and reaches a crescendo on the night of the full moon (Purnima) when pilgrims take a dip in the holy lake of Pushkar.