Friday, October 25, 2013

Sonepur Fair-Biggest Cattle Fair of Asia

Also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela, Sonepur Fair is the biggest cattle fair of Asia which is conducted on full moon day of November (Kartik Poornima) in Sonepur of Saran district of Bihar. The venue for this celebration is on the meeting point of river Gandak and Ganges. Numerous visitors from across Asia and other parts of world are attracted to this festivity which elongates from 15 days to one month of time.
On the start of this festival, pilgrims take a bath in the early morning in the convergence point which continues for about 3 weeks, they do this inorder to wash away their sins and negativity. Herd of crowds than visit the temple to worship the lord. As of now, it has been organized by Bihar Tourism from 2012 inorder to draw more international and domestic tourists.Elephants, horses, dogs, donkeys, ponies, rabbits and goats are purchased by people in this trade fair.

History: Initially the cattle fair was held in Hajipur but later the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb shifted it to Sonepur where only the puja was conducted in Hariharnath Temple (supposed to be built by Lord Rama) at the time of cattle fair in Hajipur. The modern day temple was constructed by Raja Ram Narain during the Mughal era. At the venue of today’s day cattle fair, a great years and years of fight between King Indrayamuna (elephant) and Gandharva Chief Huhu (crocodile) who were turned to animals correspondingly due to the curse of sage Agasthya and Dewala Muni was ended when Lord Vishnu cut the head of Huhu at the pray of Indrayamuna. Both were taken to the sacred abode by Lord Vishnu after their curse was made over by the god.

Thus Hindus regard as a sacred site and apart from attending the cattle fair, they visit this place inorder to take a sacred dip at the convergence point and also to pay their homage to the shrine inside the temple. This celebration and trade fair can be date back to India's first Emperor Chandragupta Maurya who used to purchase elephants and horses for his armies from this place. 

Major Attractions and Activities:

  •  Biggest Cattle Fair of Asia and among the biggest in world too.
  •  Sights, sound and shopping.
  •  Theatre and folk dances.
  •  Sale of elephants, dogs, horses, donkeys, sheeps, ponies etc.
  •  Sale of birds, poultries and diverse fishes.
  •  Handicrafts, bamboo products, souvenirs and traditional art crafts on sale.
  •  Swiss Cottage attracts mainly foreign visitors
Apart from these, stalls of garments, weapons, furniture, toys, utensils, agricultural implements, jewelry can be seen in different parts of this place along with magic shows which is another popular attraction for the kids.

The area in which the fair is held is very difficult to cover for even a healthy guy, so visitors needs to stay for about 2 to 3 days for witnessing this grand festivity. The maximum crowd can be seen in the river where people bathe, the temple where they offer their prayers and lastly in the place where elephants are kept on sale.