The state of Uttar Pradesh is popular for its rich spiritual legacy with the series of religious festivals celebrated across the state. The long list of festivals and fairs of the state includes the Bateshwar Fair on top of the list. The sleepy dusty township of Bateshwar lies just about 70kms drive by road from Agra on the banks of river Yamuna. The place is named after presiding divine being of the place Bateshwar Mahadeo and has 108 temples, dedicated to the divine deities of the Hindu pantheon.
The well-known Bateshwar fair is held at Bateshwar, the spiritual and cultural center of the state. The entire place comes alive during the months of November and December. The Bateshwar Fair is of great importance in Hindu religion. The fair is held in the month of karthik which is considered very auspicious and sacred in Hindu religion. Bateshwar Fair is proverbial for cattle fair which is organized with lots of fanfare where people either sell or purchase livestock. The fair is also of great commercial importance and is renowned as the 2nd largest animal fair in the country.
The Animal and Livestock Fair of the Bateshwar township is famous for its initialization a mere two days before Deepawali festival. The fair lasts three weeks with each week having highlights for various animals like the first week is devoted to the cattle while the second week is for the camels and donkey and finally is followed up by goats. However, it is the last week of the fair that heralds the gaiety and the peak of celebrations with wonderfully decorated stalls and elaborate ceremonies being performed at all the fabulous temples lining the ghats.
The vibrant colour of fair showcases the culture and folkways of rural folk of Uttar Pradesh, Rajastthan and Gujarat. The fair includes the market of large numbers of camels, horses, oxen, elephants, goats, and other cattle including a wide range of birds. The animals are caparisoned in beautiful display mode with colorfully embroidered cover clothes. Many of the larger animals have beautifully painted horns and paws.
In fact, each owner attempts to make his animal a cynosure for all eyes. Along with the animals are large varieties of birds that are also displayed here. Some of them are pet songbirds and many of them are various genealogies of parakeets and parrots. The birds are displayed in colorful cages and many of the dealers lay out a large variety of cages and other toys that can be used for the birds. The camels and horses are dressed out in colorful saddles handcrafted from cloth, strings, cords, leather and even sheets of colorful cloth.
The main attractions of the fair are the several immensely interesting stalls that have a huge variety of rural products ranging from utensils, cloths, tie and colorful scarves and veils besides an enormous amount of finger food that is a gourmet’s delight. The food stalls, too, have a tremendous variety of edible fare that is delectable and exhibits a variety of vegetable preparations ranging from the humble potato to any number of vegetables and fruits.
Thus, the foodstuffs served during the fare are typically rural foodstuffs but the spices are contained to a lower or higher degree depending on whom the food is focused upon. The number of milk based and other sweetmeats also available at the Bateshwar Fair are of an amazing variety. The ‘petha’ or candid green gourd preparation that is a famous product of Agra is seen here in large varieties. The third week holds market of different household products and rides for the complete entertainment of visitors of the fair.
The Bateshwar Fair presents the colorful glimpse of the rural life of India in a true sense. It is an amusing sight to see the tourists mingling with the animals and the animals too reciprocate the attention being paid to them.