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Camel Festival

Each year in the month of January the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, organizes the Annual Camel Festival in the desert town of Bikaner.

Given the difficult life in the desert, camels are much more than the beasts of burden here. From drawing water from wells to transporting grains, these ships of the desert are an integral and essential part of the Rajasthani landscape, and this particular festival celebrates their presence with colour and festivities.

The Festival starts with a procession of heavily decorated and bejeweled camels swaying regally against the background of red sandstone of the Junagarh Fort. During the parade one can see these creatures decked up in all the finery one can imagine. Tinkling anklets, elaborately decorated necks, and colorful ornamental bridles adorn these graceful animals as the sway with the elegance and poise of models. In fact that’s exactly what they are – desert models walking down the ramp of desert sands!

Gradually the scope of celebration increases and spreads onto the vaster sands of the huge ground. The festival is marked by numerous contests and performances between and by the camels themselves. These includes camel dances, tug-of-war, acrobatics and races. Apart from this there are competitions that judge entries in categories like ‘Best Dressed Camel’, “Camel with the best hair-cut’, ‘Best breed’ etc. One of the most entertaining and interesting events is the camel-milking session which demonstrates the fine art this seemingly simple activity actually requires. As experts milk the animals one can only watch in wonder and learn that even the apparently easiest things have a definite method involved in making them successful.

Even though the festival is almost exclusively concentrated on camels, other forms of entertainment like performances by traditional Rajasthani folk artists are also arranged. These dancers display their skills and showcase the traditional forms of movement practiced in the region since centuries. These items are in fact, one of the best loved aspects of the festival, and the fire dance in particular has grown hugely popular over the years.

One can also have a feast gorging on traditional sweets made from pure camel milk. All of these are based on recipes that have come down over the ages and they offer a unique flavour that cannot be repeated anywhere else. As the evening draws near thousands of people –local as well a tourists, ordinary citizens as well as dignitaries –come together to enjoy the different colours of this unique festival that celebrates the joint efforts of man and his companion creatures in the desert. Anyone who has witnessed this event even once can never forget the experience. The swirling skirts of folk dancers, the dazzling fireworks lighting up the night sky, the glittering ornaments of the camels, the tempo of the desert sounds and the laughter of people having a great time - as the evening dies out these are the images that form themselves in one’s mind as lasting memories of the awe-inspiring celebration of the Bikaner Camel Festival!

Camel Fair Bikaner

(18-19 Jan 2011)
(08-09 Jan 2012)
(26-27 Jan 2013)
(15-16 Jan 2014)
(04-05 Jan 2015)

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