1. Introduction: Fairs
  2. KumbhMela
  3. Types of Kumbh Melas:
  4. Upcoming Kumbh Mela
  5. Pushkar Mela (Rajsthan)
  6. Saliana, (Palampur)
  7. Garh Murktesar fair
  8. Urs
  9. sair-i gulfaroshan or phoolwalon ki sair
  10. Trade fairs
  11. Tourism angle
  12. Mock Interview question

Previously, we saw about main festivals of India, now continuing the discussion further, second topic is “Fairs” of India.

Introduction: Fairs

  •  Large or small fairs have always been attached to many festivals in India. Thus during Dushera, Ganeshotsava, Id, Makar Sankranti and even Muharram fairs of substantial size are held during the celebrations.
  • Some fairs are independent and exist in their own right. In terms of their scope the Indian fairs are huge and cover many aspects of our life.
  • Thus we find some people engaged in trading their commodities, some involved in religious rites like taking dip in the holy water etc., some indulging in religious debates while at some other corner we can find singing of folk songs going on; loudspeakers can be heard blaring the latest filmi songs from another side while some can be seen indulging in leisurely chat; wrestling bouts are not uncommon and sometimes even the local level leaders can be seen giving lectures.


  • Kumbhmela is unique in the respect that it does not exhibit the features associated with a traditional Indian fair.
  • It is basically a religious congregation which is held once every 12 years (Maha Kumbha) at one of the four holy places (Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik, Haridwar) in turn.
  • An “ardha” or half Kumbha occurs every 6 years.
  • According to mythology, when the “devas” or gods and the “asuras” or demons together churned the waters of the primeval ocean many priceless things floated up from the ocean.
  • Among these was a pot (kumbha) of “amrit” – the nectar of immortality. During the struggle for the possession of the “amrit” between the demons and the gods, some drops of the precious nectar got spilt. These fell at twelve places including nether world called “patala.”
  • Four of these twelve places, namely Haridwar, Ujjain, Allahabad and Nasik, are in India, and a great fair is held at each of these places in a 12 years cycle.
  • Ujjain is also visited by many pilgrims during eclipses when a holi bath is considered meritorious.

Types of Kumbh Melas:

  • Maha Kumbh Mela – occurring every 144 years – only in Allahabad
  • Purna Kumbh Mela – after every twelve years – last one took place in January 2001 in Allahabad
  • Ardh Kumbh – 6th year after Kumbh Mela
  • Kumbh Mela – every 12 years, at each place : Prayag, Nasik, Haridwar and Ujjain
  • Magh Mela – Annual, held every year except years of Kumbh Mela and Ardh Kumbh Mela Held in Magh (Jan-Feb); hence the name. Always in Allahabad

Upcoming Kumbh Mela

Location Time
Allahabad (Prayag) 2013(January 27th to February 25th)
Nasik 2015 (August 15th to September 13th)
Ujjan 2016 ( April 22nd to may 21st)

Pushkar Mela (Rajsthan)

Pushkar Mela

  • is held on the day of Karthik Purnima (in October – November). Devotees gather around Pushkar lake and take a ceremonious bath in it.
  • Pushkar, one of the holy pilgrimage places of India, is said to possess the only temple where Brahma is still worshipped.
  •  According to legend, when Brahma was reflecting on a suitable place to perform “Yagna” (sacrifice), a lotus fell from his hand. That spot became renowned as Pushkar. An annual fair marks the occasion. This Pushkar fair, characterized among other things by its cattle market, has now become very well known to the tourists – both domestic as well as foreign. Traditionally a religious occasion, that was accompanied by the exchange of camels.

Saliana, (Palampur)

  • Among the non-religious fairs Saliana, (Palampur) is noted for its wrestling matches, while at Sonepur meta (in Bihar) selling of elephants adds extra colour to the occasion.

Garh Murktesar fair

  • (60 km. from Delhi), it has been held since Mughal period. This fair is held every year at Garh Murktesar where besides ritual bathing in the Ganges brisk economic activities also take place.


Urs At Ajmer Sharif

  • Urs is the birth or death anniversary celebrations at a dargah) celebrations. Urs are held annually at the dargah of famous sufi saints.
  • Unique character of these celebrations is that people visit in large number to take the blessings of the revered saints irrespective of caste and creed (both the Hindus and the Muslims attend the celebrations with equal zeal).
  • Ajmer Sharif is the dargah of Shaikh Muinuddin Chishti, the founder of Chishti sufi order in India. Delhi Sultans and Mughal Emperors all used to make pilgrimage to this shrine.
  • Annual Urs celebrations continues here for seven days. The chief attraction here are the sessions of qawwali (a genere of music and poetry sung in a specific way). Food is distributed to the destitute. The manner of food cooked here also has its own attraction. Inside the dargah there are two massive iron cooking pots (degs). The capacity of the larger deg is such that it can cook 70 mounds of rice at one go while in the smaller pot 28 mounds of rice can be cooked at a time.
  • In April, annual Urs is held at Gwalior to honour the Great Mughal singer Tansen by singing traditional and newly composed Music.
  • Urs celebrations of famous saint Shah Hamadam (he visited Kashmir in 14th century) are held every year at Srinagar in August- September.
  • Urs celebrations are observed at many places in Delhi – at Qadam Sharif, at the tombs of Shaikh Bakhtiyar Kaki, Shaikh Nizamuddin Aulia, Shaikh Nasiruddin Chirag-i Delhi, Hazrat Amir Khusrau and many other sufi saints.

sair-i gulfaroshan or phoolwalon ki sair

President Pratibha Patil being presented the traditional pankha by office bearers of Anjuman Sair-i-Gulfaroshan, ahead of the inauguration Phool Walon ki Sair Fair

President Pratibha Patil being presented the traditional pankha by office bearers of Anjuman Sair-i-Gulfaroshan, ahead of the inauguration Phool Walon ki Sair Fair (Hindustand Times)

  • At the dargah of sufi saint Qutbudin Bakhtiar kaki another unique festival sair-i gulfaroshan or phoolwalon ki sair is held every year.
  • This unique festival of flowers, known as the procession of flowers and flower-sellers, dates back to the Mughal period. Hindus, Muslims and others participate whole-heartedly in it.
  • Huge fans (pankhas) made of palm leaves and decorated with flowers and tinsel, along with floral offerings are carried in procession through the streets of Mehrauli. Fire dancers join the “Sair.” The procession starts from the Hauz-i Shamsi, a sacred tank dating from the time of Iltutmish (13th century), and continues to the dargah of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar kaki, popularly known as Khawaja Qutub Sahib (the second of the Sufi saints of the Chishti tradition), and then to the Jog-Maya temple. Hindus and Muslims jointly offer prayers at these two religious places. An associated function takes place at Jahaz Mahal, north-east of the Hauz-i Shamsi.

Surajkund Handicraft Mela

  • Surajkund is a small ancient kund (pond) in Haryana on the outskirts of Delhi. This picturesque place is the venue for the annual Handicrafts fair.

Trade fairs

  • are our modern-day addition to the tradition of Indian fairs. They are held intermittently throughout the year in different parts of the country.
  • Pragati Maidan in Delhi is a prominent place for such trade fairs throughout the year.
  • Book Fairs are also held in various cities to interest the readers and to develop a reading culture.

Tourism angle

  • There are many aspects related to Indian festivals and fairs which have a potential to attract the tourists.
  • Pooja (Calcutta), Ganeshotsav (Bombay), Dashehra (Mysore, Kullu, etc.) are too famous as centre of tourists attractions.
  • Similar, is the case with Bihu (Assam), and Garba (Gujarat) dance traditions.
  • Balus and Ramas organising dances in the evening in groups at the time of Ganeshotsava is equally interesting a feature of Ganeshotsava celebrations as do the Ganeshotsava processions. Similarly, at the time of Bihu celebrations local Assamese sport of playing with eggs can attract tourists.
  • On Pongal day when people in every street and mohullah tie money on the neck of bulls and the manner in which brave men try to snatch them could be an equally attractive sight for a tourist.
  • Manner of constructing thatched houses on the occasion of Magh Bihu and liting bonfires whole night and dancing on the tune of Bihu dances and in the morning puting these houses at fire are fascinating.
  • Similarly, interesting sight would be to see the lathmar holi of Barsana and Nandgaon in Mathura.

Mock Interview question

  1. What prevents India from becoming a Tourist hotspot like Malaysia or Switzerland?