Hundreds of herdsmen and their animals gathered in the desert city of Pushkar in India’s Rajasthan state for the country’s largest camel trade show.
The city typically attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims, cattle traders and herdsmen for the annual event, which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The event sees camel-breeding communities sometimes migrate hundreds of miles from their remote villages to trade their animals.
The 13-day fair, which opened on Monday, coincides with several auspicious days in the Hindu calendar, contributing to the crowds that crowded the respected city on the lake.
“Pushkar is about both cattle trade and religious rituals,” Prafull Mathur of Rajasthan’s livestock breeding division told AFP news agency.
“The COVID-19 situation has not fully normalized, but we still expect a good turnout,” Mathur added.
Organizers usually hold competitions for camel herders, which is a major attraction for local and international tourists, but the government has not yet clarified whether the competitions will be allowed this year.
The fair is the only time of year when camel breeders – most of whom live in remote nomadic communities in the desert – can earn cash that helps maintain their way of life.
The camels are mostly bought by people from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to use on their farms or as transportation. Other animals, including horses, are also bought and sold at the event.
India’s security forces deployed along the international border with Pakistan also use many camels to patrol remote parts.
To help remote camel breeders’ communities diversify their income, the government has sought to promote camel milk, camel leather, and camel bone products.
The region’s prominent camel herder community, Raikas, believes the Hindu god Shiva gave them the responsibility to raise camels.