Chandrabhaga Fair: Why Did the Camels Cross the River?

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Asia » India » Rajasthan
November 24th 2018
Published: January 28th 2019
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To get to the fair, of course!

It is no secret, dad and I enjoy going to livestock fairs in foreign countries. We love the energy, the animals, the colors and watching the preparations that remind us of participating in American fairs.

We love the food and shopping. We love the relaxing pace. And we love interacting with the people.

Some of our days may look pretty boring to onlookers as we often don’t have an agenda, a plan or a timeline. We walk until something catches our eye. We sit and watch whatever catches our eye. We honestly have fair days that include nothing more than just soaking up the feel of the fair.

So it is probably not too surprising we might find delight in the smallest of things. That is is the case with the Chandrabhaga river crossing.

The moment we heard the first splashes and and saw the first caravan of camels enter the river, we were smitten. I know it sounds silly, but for me it was the highlight of this particular fair.

In the morning, we would go to one of the two river crossing
spots to watch and hope for a caravan to come within view. We stood on the river’s edge and just allowed ourselves to become mesmerized by the call of the Raika, the sight of the camels negotiating their steps and the splash of those long legs striding across the water.

Each camel herd responded differently to the the river crossing, but there was very little coaxing necessary to get these desert animals across the river. They were not thirsty, thus didn’t stop to drink. They were not intimidated by the challenge, so did not need to be forced. They were not even distracted, which is more than we can say about some of the Raika who became incredibly focused on what we were doing along the water’s edge.

Sometimes, the herders moved their caravan to the center of the river and abruptly stopped. They kept the camels in a tight bunch and then just stayed. They stood there for sometimes 10 minutes or more. The camels were not drinking, The herders were not washing. They entire group was just standing and waiting.

Waiting for what we are not sure, but after our own experience of entering the
fair at Pushkar with some Raika herders, we assumed the Raika were waiting for the most ideal time to enter the fair. They were waiting for the clock to strike that predetermined auspicious time and once that happened they would continue on their journey.

Watching this necessary fair ritual absolutely made Chandrabhaga a memorial fair for us and though it was only a small moment in the journey to the fair, it is a moment that will most definitely bring a smile to my face when I reflect our time in Jhalawar.

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