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For us, it was a great time exploring rural tourism, interacting with the local people, being in the middle of all their celebration.
The cattle fair was a fantastic icing on the cake
This weekly village market is the biggest social event for all the people in this region, it really is their Christmas!
The small town of Rajur is the “market town” for this region. Market town – because the weekly market for this region is held here on Mondays.
Every year around December, the first Monday after “Dutta Jayanti” (The birthday of Lord Dutta), is the biggest market day of the year. The biggest cattle fair of the year is hosted here.
Schools were shut and no one worked that day. Everybody- entire families, kids in tow – were at the market, dressed in their festive best!
All the neighbourhood farmers attend this cattle fair
They stay on the grounds for two straight days, hoping to get a fair deal for their prized cattle.
Our guide, Balu Kondar of the nearby village of Purushwadi, arranged for us by Grassroutes helped us through the maze of the bulls.
The whole ground is abuzz with activity. Some are still decorating their bulls, making sure they look just right. Prospective buyers go window shopping, inspecting the bulls before they zero in on the one they would take home.
Many are just feeling the pulse of the market and the deals!
The farmer and his cattle
The cattle is a part of the farmer’s family. They raise and rear them with as much love and care as their own children.
The importance of their cattle to rural India is magnanimous. For small time farmers, who do not (and can not afford to) own tractors, the bulls are their only means to pursue farming and earn a livelihood.
This makes the bulls the farmer’s best friends, their children, their Gods!
We tried to comprehend what this connection means, as we watched the endearing bond between the farmer and his animal.
Lunch is the simle bhakri (a healthier, less glamourous variant of the popular roti) with some vegetable, chutney or – raw onion!
The bulls are the celebrities of the cattle fair – they have to look their best
The bulls are decorated with special accessories. It’s like a bull dressed for a wedding! There is a strong patriotic feel to these accessories as well – do not miss the colours of the Indian tricolour!
A young bull, ready for farming activities is the highest prized at the cattle fair
The cattle fair was the first time we saw black and white bulls
Only the ones conceived naturally are black and white in colour. Which is why they are seen only closer to the villages where the cattle population is larger.
Keep it under the wraps – the biggest game at the cattle fair
“What’s negotiation got to do with a shawl?” We wondered aloud to Balu. He only replied we would soon know!
Every farmer sets a price for their bulls, based mainly on their age. Nobody wants to reveal how low they are willing to negotiate.
That’s when a shawl comes in.
The farmers at the cattle fair have some fixed symbols representing certain numbers. The buyer and the seller put their hands under the shawl and non-verbal, touch-and-feel negotiations start.
The onlookers are a contrast to the negotiations. Their expressions speak a thousand word. Shouting encouraging words to the buyer and the seller, urging each one to have the deal go through. “Mara thappi mara” (Come on, pat the bull, already!), they start shouting is the deal seems likely to happen.
The buyer’s pat on the bull is final seal on the deal. It is the buyer saying “he is now mine”!
Thank you, Grassroutes for this wonderful experience!