Bateshwar Fair in AgraThe sleepy, dusty township of Bateshwar lies just about seventy kilometers drive by road from Agra. It is a temple complex having the reigning deity as Bateshwar Mahadeo and the entire complex dotting the banks of the Yamuna is made up of 108 temples. The entire place comes alive and is bursting at the seams literally during the months of November and December. It is the time when the devotees of Lord Shiva and belonging to the Shaivite sect assemble at Bateshwar Mahadeo to take a holy dip in the waters of the sacred Yamuna River to seek the blessings of the Lord himself.
Although the reigning deity of Bateshwar is Lord Shiva himself but the township owes allegiance to a number of other annotated persona as well. Bateshwar is said to be the birth place of Lord Krishna’s mother. It is also known to be the birthplace of the twenty second Tirthankar of Jains namely the Tirthankarka Nemichand. The hall mark of the Jains' presence in Bateshwar are the intricately carved Jain temples that are easily distinguishable from the one hundred one white marble temples that line the clay cliffs along the curve of Yamuna.
Bateshwar is famous as the son of the four dhams or major pilgrimage and it is said that once someone has completed the four dhams of Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri and Rameshwaram one has to conclude the journey by visiting Bateshwar Mahadeo as well only then is the pilgrimage of the four ‘dhams’ considered completed and blessed.
The Bateshwar Fair is the grand magnum opus of fairs in the country and is marked to commemorate the visit of the Lord Shiva who had rested under a large ‘Bat Vriksha’ or Banyan Tree. This magnificent tree stands even today in all its glorious spread and is worshipped by many a devotee in the pursuit of obtaining the blessings of Lord Shiva himself. Shaivaite devotees along with several others flock to the Bateshwar Fair over the two-month long fair to take a holy dip in the Yamuna waters as also they pay their obeisance and earn the blessings of Lord Shiva besides the attraction of seeing a multitude of products of the rural Indian industry and craftsmanship.
Annual Cattle Fair in Bateshwar
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 days are colorful and dusty panoramas of rural Indian life and the nights are fragrant musical vistas of the devout and culture steeped spiritual experience that forms the heart of the Indian spirit.
The fair is a colorful exposition that showcases the vibrant culture and folkways of the rural folk of the contingent states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The Bateshwar Fair has come to be established in the region as one of the largest and most renowned livestock and cattle fairs. The array of cows, buffaloes, bulls, oxen, horses, camels and elephants besides all sorts of other animals 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. This is among the largest animal fairs held in the country. The dealers and sellers proudly show off their wares like coveted prizes and many a prize will bull or cow are examined by crowds of people who even though they do not have the potential or desire to buy them, stand about in awe to admire the beautiful animals.
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. Similarly there are a large number of stalls that sell colorful bells, beads of colorful glassware, woven straps, leather and metal straps. Forehead bands that jingle merrily with a multitude of tinkling bells. Many of the animal lovers fondly decorate the feet of the animals with metal anklets (usually brassware) that ring musically when the animal prances about. The camels and horses are dressed out in colorful saddles handcrafted from cloth, strings, cords, leather and even sheets of colorful cloth.
Many a visitor to the fair can purchase any number of ornaments for their own animals and it is interesting to note that many of the tourists who visit the fair especially the foreigners tend to buy the ornaments for themselves. It is an amusing sight to see the tourists mingling with the animals and the animals too reciprocate the attention being paid to them.
Attractions of Bateshwar Fair in Agra
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. The makers of these rural foodstuffs are especially tuned into the needs of the visitors to the fare and make their preparations according to their tastes.
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. Similarly, the pure milky preparation originating in Mathura as the famous ‘Mathura ka Peda’ is also available in plenty at the fair along with a large variety of fresh and delicious variety of edible foods.
The range of toys being sold at the Bateshwar Fair take its theme from the animal fair and a large number of stalls have on display earthenware, lacquer work and wooden toys in the shapes of a number of animals and human figurines. Similarly marble and brass ware products are visible in large quantities.