Rajasthan’s ‘Donkey Fair’ no longer charms buyers

November 14th, 2007 - 2:39 am ICT by admin  
Kanota (Jaipur), Oct.22 (ANI): Rajasthan’s popular “Donkey Fair”, which is known to attract villagers and tourists every year, is no longer a major attraction.

The number of donkeys normally sold during the fair has dropped to a hundred from thousands that were sold previously, and old-timers blame the use of modern implements for this.

The fair that at Kanota, which is about 25 kilometres from Jaipur, is believed to be Asia’s biggest.

“We used to come here with our old animals, sell them and buy new ones, But this time, there are very few animals, I guess, I will have to go back with my old animal and continue with it only,” said Shankar Lal, a donkey owner.

The sharp decline has left locals sceptical about the fair’s future.

The fair used to fascinate villagers and customers from Agra, Marwah, Jaisalmer, Ladakh and Kashmir. But now, it has been reduced to a village event due to the lack of buyers.

Babulal, who earlier had a donkey sold it at the fair, and today takes pride in the fact that he owns a horse.

“Who uses donkeys these days? I use a horse. Nobody prefers donkeys. People feel embarrassed,” claims Babulal.

Locals also lament the apathy shown by the State tourism department.

Earlier, donkey was regarded as the most suitable beast of burden in rural India. But with the advent of better roads and cheap transport, the donkeys have been virtually driven off the roads.

Some donkey traders rue the use of tractors and motor vehicles.

The decrease in the demand for donkeys in the brick-manufacturing units in the past few years has also affected the sale of donkeys at the fair.

Though provisions to attract crowds are made in different ways, the craze for the fair is going.

The fair also offers prizes to people who bring the largest number of donkeys or the best breed variety. This apart, donkeys and horses are made to participate in a race.

The owner of the winning donkeys or horses is given a cash reward of between rupees 500 to Rs. 10,000.

Normally, there are two types of donkey breeds brought to this fair —Kathiyawadi and Marwari, of which the Marwari breed is priced higher. As the demand for the donkeys is less now, a large number of horses are also being brought here for sale.

Horses are sought by the Army and the paramilitary forces. They are also in demand in farm houses.

The Donkey Fair is held also as a celebration in respect of the Goddess Khalkani.

According to the folklore, Chanda Meena, a brave landlord, had rescued a princess in distress. She, in turn, accepted him as her brother. The princess had a notorious son named Malay Singh.

Chanda Meena wanted to teach him. He once asked Malay Singh to take a donkey laden with a bagful of gold coins for the ruler of Delhi. As he reached the temple of Goddess Khalkani, his greed got the better of him. When he opened the bag, he found stones instead of coins.

A disturbed and nervous Malay Singh, thinking he would be held responsible for the disappearance of the coins, worshipped the goddess at the temple. The stones turned into gold coins. Since then, the donkey fair is organised to commemorate this miracle. (ANI)

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