This coffee-table book was published for a private organization, in 2014. The entire content was written by me, which exceeded 5000 words.
Pushkar – Where the Gods reside.
To explore Pushkar is to time travel through the most interesting eras of history. Walk by the busy lanes of the bazaar to envisage the markets of the ancient times teeming with knick-knacks, food and vibrancy. A dip in the holy waters of Pushkar lake can transport you to the times of yore when people used to come on foot from the farthest corners of the country on an auspicious day of the year to wash away sins of a lifetime. Thronging the periphery of the ghats are hundreds of temples jostled together, each important in its domain and spirituality, standing tall as if untouched by the wheels of time. Holding utmost importance and garnering extreme reverence is the Brahma temple because it’s the only temple in the world where one can offer prayers to Lord Brahma. A step inside the temple and the solemn air heralds the sacredness and antiquity of the foundation, giving a glimpse of the time when Gods used to descend on earth to take charge and ensure peace & prosperity.
Pushkar is an ancient town that grows on you, layer by layer. An archaic book that unfolds a new fable, leaf by leaf. The holiest of the pilgrimage sites that warrant salvation of the soul, prayer by prayer.
A DRAMATIC HISTORY
The Birth Of A Holy City
When a town’s antiquity is believed to be ancient, the history becomes even more interesting to comprehend. The origins of Pushkar have been credited to many myths and fables. The foremost and popular belief is that Lord Brahma in search of a place for performing a Mahayagna (Holy sacrifice) found Pushkar to be auspicious enough. But the land was troubled as a shrewd demon named Vajranash was on a rampage, annihilating the population of the place.
On knowing about the massacre, Lord Brahma came to the rescue of the people by slewing the demon merely by a lotus flower! Albeit that lotus flower was laced with an impactful mantra. During the battle, three parts of the lotus fell on earth, one of which is Pushkar where a lake sprang up. This led to the name of the place as Pushkar – Pushp (Flower) and Kar (Hand), literally meaning the place where lotus fell from the hand of Lord Brahma.
A Yagna That Changed The Course Of History
The finding of Pushkar was just the beginning, as a glaring story with historical twists was waiting to unfold. After finding Pushkar, Lord Brahma performed a yagna there at an auspicious time to shield it further from demons and other troubles.
In the midst of the proceeding came a critical juncture where Ahuti (offering to the sacrificial fire) was supposed to be given along with his consort, Savitri (also known as Saraswati). When she failed to arrive on the auspicious moment, Lord Indra who was the priest, arranged a local girl, Gayatri, to marry Lord Brahma on his behest. When Savitri finally arrived at the site and saw her place taken up by someone else without her consent, she got infuriated and on impulse cursed Lord Bhahma that he would never be worshipped anywhere else than in Pushkar.
Since then, Pushkar has been regarded as the Tirthraj, the greatest of the pilgrimage sites. According to Hindu mythology, even visiting the four sacred sites (Char Dham) is not enough to attain salvation until Pushkar is not visited. Such is the importance of Pushkar in the religious and spiritual realm.
THE ANNUAL PUSHKAR FAIR
India might have taken a giant leap to become a modern nation in terms of architectural wonders, burgeoning middle class, world-class malls brimming with renowned luxury brands, high density of cellular phones, space programs and technological advancements, etc. But at the heart of it, the country is yet seeped into its rich tapestry of culture, heritage and traditions. Corroborating the fact is the annual Pushkar fair that is held in the ancient town of Pushkar, Rajasthan. It’s a magnum opus whose dog-eared pages seem to carry the legends and fables in their finest glory, amplifying each looming link and act.
Probably the largest cattle fair in the world, the scale of the Pushkar fair is so immense that it cannot be comprehended in absolute terms…it descends on one’s senses in fragments. It is so mystical that it oscillates between illusion and reality, leaving one gasping for more. It seems like a typical dream sequence from a psychedelic drama of how a desert that though housed many a civilization, is transformed into a vivid display of colors. From nowhere hordes of traders, pilgrims & tourists converge in the month of October-November and the entire settlement turns festive. There is movement, chaos and celebration. The otherwise religious, silent town suddenly becomes a beehive of activities.
A spectacle of colors, the fair goes beyond cultures, faiths or religions. Anyone is welcome here to witness the gala festivities, and the interactive events ensure everybody leaves with a delightful experience. Demarcating the grand extravaganza, the three events that take place at the Pushkar fair are the pilgrimage, the cattle fair and the circus-like entertainment activities.
During the Pushkar fair, pujas are performed almost continuously by the priests, who guide people through the rituals of taking the holy dip in the lake. Pilgrimage is the sole reason for most of the people to visit Pushkar at this time.
The camel fair attracts traders from all parts of the country to sell & buy more than 50,000 livestock like cows, camels, horses, goats, sheep, etc. The numbers could be mind boggling, considering that the fair is visited by over 3,00,000 people each year.
The festival is what attracts most of the tourists to the fair, with several activities like cage of death, longest moustcache competition, tug of war between locals and tourists, turban tying completion, camel beautification competition, distinct dance performances, magicians and musicians entertaining one and all. The ambience is enhanced with several kinds of rides, various games, distinct snaking options and unique stalls. The town comes alive during these 9 days of trade, entertainment and devotion.
Every moment spent at Pushkar is an enriching experience that catapults an ordinary journey into an everlasting memory.