Thousands of years ago the Great Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya used to visit the animal fair near the Gandak River to buy horses and elephants required for the war. On the banks of the river Gandak, which flows past the temple of Lord Hariharnath, on the auspicious night of Karthik Purnima (around November full moon), the fair used to be held. Though years have passed on, the fair still maintains the heritage, its piety and holiness with the rush of thousands of people. Located 25 km from Patna, the capital city of Bihar, the Gandak river still flows, brimming with water and on its holy banks in the Sonpur area is held the world’s largest cattle fair.
Horses, elephants, cows, goats, Oxen, hen, chickens everything is available in this fair for sale. Still today, the ancient tradition continues – auctioning elephants, horse racing competitions, herds of cows on sale. The other major attraction of the fair is the morning prayers and offerings made to God with the tune of aartis and pujas (worship) on the auspicious occasion of Karthik Purnima. Thousands of people flock together from midnight to get a holy dip in the water before the sun rises. It is a great assembly of people ranging from children to old men & women. People still believe in the old faith that souls do not get liberated from the human body and they hover around to get freedom. Group of local exorcists try to make the souls free from human bodies with their grueling sessions on the victims. On the name of exorcism people are brutally tortured.
Everything has moved on – the history of time, the demographic changes, social eco-systems. But in this journey of thousand years, something remained engraved in the hearts of the people – the tradition to follow rituals. Still everything is on sale here…animals as well as human sentiments.
Full Album View: