Sonepur Fair


Here India shows herself at her surreal best. The old temple, of Lord Harihar, by river Gandak, lends the Sonpur animal fair with a religious perspective and makes it locally known as the Fair at Harihar-kshetra. At Sonepur, in the month long fiasco starting on Kartik Purnima, come elephants, horses, bullocks, cows, birds, dogs, camels, and, as I have seen, even baby pythons. Some of these are big, some cute, some admittedly endangered. Morning mist effortlessly turns the landscape into a Mughal miniature. In truth, here nothing appears to have changed much since the Mughal days. With dawn, the elephants march to the river, the horses gallop, the cows are made to run, the birds dream. The traders negotiate holding symbolic fingers, women pray, a comic muscle-man takes pride in his muzzle-loader. This certainly is not the reflection that one is used to look at with calm. But, like a true Mughal, Sonepur cares not.