EX­PE­RI­ENCE PUSHK AR C AME L FAIR

The Pushkar Came Fair usu­ally takes place to­wards the end of Oc­to­ber/november. Visit Ra­jasthan’s Tourism’s of­fi­cial site for ex­act dates: www.tourism.ra­jasthan.gov.in

Asian Geographic - - South Asia -

With so much go­ing on, the camel fair mer­its more than just a day or two to re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate all that it has to of­fer.

While the fair re­mains a fes­ti­val of ho­mage to Ra­jasthan’s renowned camels and their colour­ful care­tak­ers, the Rabari’s way of life is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult as they lose ac­cess to the graz­ing lands that they have used for cen­turies on their sea­sonal mi­gra­tions.

Over the past decade, the one­humped camel has ex­pe­ri­enced an es­ti­mated 50-per­cent de­cline in pop­u­la­tion. As a re­sult, camel num­bers have been down in re­cent years at the Pushkar Camel Fair, lead­ing some to ques­tion whether the Rabari’s tra­di­tional way of life will sur­vive through fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Back on the sand dunes, as the week’s fes­tiv­i­ties are draw­ing to a close, Hukuma Ram con­fesses: “It’s hard work tak­ing care of camels, es­pe­cially nowa­days.”

As chil­dren of the Rabari have in­creased con­tact with the mod­ern world, many opt to go to school in cities, leav­ing the fam­ily tra­di­tion be­hind them. Camel trad­ing is now at risk of fad­ing away.

“Traders used to trade in a friendly man­ner. We all knew each other and were like a close knit fam­ily,” Ram ex­plains. “Af­ter com­ing here for 20 years, I see the changes. Now, the fair feels more com­mer­cial and the sense of com­mu­nity is lost. Camel num­bers are de­clin­ing, but I’m still cer­tain that the tra­di­tion will live on. It has to.” ag BRENT LEWIN is an award-win­ning pho­tog­ra­pher based in Bangkok, Thai­land. His work has been fea­tured in Na­tional Ge­o­graphic, the Newyork­times and Time, among oth­ers. More of his work can be viewed on his web­site: www.brentlewin.com.

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