Not far from Ajmer is Pushkar which is celebrated as the holiest lake in India. The country's most colourful fair is celebrated here in early winter, during the month of November. For seven days, over 55,000 men and animals soften the desert sands with their tread, because the Pushkar fair combines both cattle marketing and a bathing fair.
The word Pushkar in Sanskrit means 'full to the brim'. In Hindu mythology, the famous lake at Pushkar is credited to Brahma, the Lord of Creation in the Hindu Trinity. It is said that water gushed from the barren desert at the spot where the mighty god chose to perform a yagna (sacrifice). This oval shaped place is today known as the Pushkar Lake. At the site where the great sacrifice was actually performed, stands a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. This is said to be the only temple of Brahma in India.
Thousands of camels, horses, cows and sheep are brought to Pushkar several days before the actual fair. Some families put up their own tents, but most of the others spend the whole week under the open sky. Rows and rows of shops spring up. As the majority of the visitors are from Rajasthan, men in colourful Rajasthani turbans and women in swirling ghagras made of over twenty yards of cloth, weave their way about the fair, buy ing and selling all sorts of articles. A special bazaar, offering bells, belts, saddles, silken reins and other finery for camels, does a brisk business. At this fair, camels are not only bought and sold but are also paraded to the merriment of the crowd. The most popular of the camel events is Laadoo Urth or the loaded camel. Camels representing various teams are made to carry the maximum number of persons on their backs and run a certain distance with the full load. Usually the winning camel is able to carry as many as eight to nine persons on its back.
Nightfall presents another exciting sight. Miniature leaf- boats bedecked with flowers and carrying tiny oil-lamps are set afloat on the holy water of the lake amidst the clanging of temple bells. This ceremony marks the end of the weeklong festivities. Next day starts the exodus back to the villages and Pushkar once again becomes the sleepy little town which it normally is.