Monday, November 15, 2010

Welcome to the Grand Sonepur Mela 2010 – India’s Pride, the Sonepur Cattle Fair

The Sonepur Mela or the Sonepur Cattle Fair is a beautiful villagey festival, held in the month of November in the pretty hamlet of Sonepur in Bihar. The Sonepur Cattle Fair is celebrated on the mesmerizingly beautiful confluence of the Holy Rivers – Ganga and Gandak. Also, sometimes just known as the Harihar Kshetra Mela, the Sonepur fair attracts visitors from far and wide, especially from all across Asia. The Sonepur Cattle Fair happens be Asia’s grandest cattle fair and is believed to have been celebrated since the ancient days. The Sonepur mela 2010 is just round the corner, so come, let’s explore more about this wonder cattle festival of Bihar in words and pictures, before you (who knows!) may finally decide to land up there and witness all the grandeur of a cattle festival with your own eyes !!

Sonepur Cattle Fair 2010 – the dates

The Sonepur mela or the Sonepur fair 2010 is all set to begin on November 21st and stretch till December 15th. This is a fortnight festival which begins from the day of Kartik Shukla Paksh or Kartik Purnima of the Kartik (November) month of the Hindu calendar, which is a full moon day. This fifteen day cattle festival of Bihar often some years extends to a month.

Sonepur Mela – the legends to remember

The Sonepur fair gets its inspiration from the legendary story of King Indrayamuna and the Gandharva chief called Huhu. It is believed, that these two men were cursed and turned into elephant and crocodile respectively by the influential sages Dewala and Agasthya muni. One day, the crocodile caught the leg of the elephant and both of them fought for several years with their herd. Finally, the King Elephant started to give up and went praying for his protection to the supreme God Vishnu. Lord Vishnu heard the prayers of the king and killed the crocodile with his “Chakra.” This released Huhu from his crocodile curse and simultaneously, also released king Indrayamuna from his elephant curse. Then, God Vishnu took both to his aboard in Vaikuntha. Since that time, the Sonepur cattle fair has been celebrated in their honor.

Sonepur Cattle Fair – an engaging tale of history

In the historical years, it was the great emperor of India, Chandragupta Maurya, who used to buy horses and elephants across the holy river of Ganges. Then, the Sonepur cattle fair became the platform for trading cattle. The fair began to attract traders from places far and wide, most notably from Central Asia. Originally, the locus of the Sonepur mela was Hajipur, where the puja used to be held in the Sonepur Harihar Nath temple. But, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb came to power, the Sonepur fair venue was shifted from Hajipur to Sonepur. Legends have it, the Harihar Nath temple in Sonepur, Bihar was originally erected by Lord Rama to offer prayers to God on his way to King Janak’s court, where he intended to win the hand of Sita. Many historical accounts also refer to Raja Man Singh having undertaken the repair and renovation of the Sonepur Harihar Nath temple in Bihar. The temple, as it stands with pride and all holiness today, was rebuilt in the late Mughal era, by an influential person called Raja Ram Narain.

Sonepur Mela – the cattle trade

The Sonepur fair is an interesting event in the fairs and festivals calendar of India, when almost every kind of animal is brought to the fair grounds for trading. Some of the most notable animals brought in the Sonepur cattle fair include Persian horses, camels, cats, ponies, donkeys, buffaloes and sheep. Animals like chimps, elephants, monkeys, guinea pigs, cats, bears and dogs are also brought in and lined up for trade. But that’s not all that is to this biggest cattle fair of Asia. The Sonepur mela also bustles with stalls which sell almost every kind of good imaginable ranging from garments, utensils, handicrafts and jewelries to furniture, toys, agricultural equipments and weapons.

So, if you want to be a part of Sonepur fair 2010 – the grandest cattle festival of Asia go ahead, witness the fun, capture them in your lenses and be a part of this interesting and unique grandeur!

Picture Sources: