- Aug 24, 2016
The Pushkar camel fair is held annually in the state of Rajasthan,India. It is a source of income for many. Indian pilgrims and merchants are drawn towards it by a devotion to religion and business. What’s fascinating is the gypsy tribe of Rajasthan –“The Kalbelias”. They flock this festival as most of their income is from such fairs and festivals only, by either entertaining the tourists with their talented folk dance and snake charming skills or just posing as subjects for all the photographers who have come a long way in search of portraits of these light eyed beauties.
After visiting the Pushkar fair 2 years in a row and some personal interaction with these gypsies, I learnt a lot about their lives,moving from place to place, sleeping beneath the stars on the fairground this tribe has a bad reputation of being thieves. Their kids have been taught to be persistent to earn a mere 10 rupees, the talented ones will win your praise by humming the folk songs and the gorgeous little girls act as perfect models,there was never a dull moment while I chatted with these kids, many of them have never been to school since they accompany their parents to the various fairs and festivals around Rajasthan. There were little ones dressed as an Indian gods and goddess’s who would be happy to strike a pose and haggled her way around for Rs.20 a picture, it’s a fairly simple trade where a photographer is spotted with a nice fancy camera and before you know it a bunch of children have flocked around him, all shouting out “10 rupees for one photo! Please take a photo”
3 Days at the Pushkar fair will bedazzle you with the all its sound sand colors, you are drawn towards the cultural magnetism but as a personal experience I left with a heavy heart just to see how difficult it was to survive for these little kids who were helping their parents earn a livelihood. An array of mixed emotions occurs as they look at you, hesitant to talk yet curious to know about you. A faint hope that this could be someone they would get some kind of help from and slowly that approach with fear dangling on one side and the lack of confidence on the other. I befriended loads of them asked them about their lives, education, and their parents,what kind of homes they lived in when they weren’t at the fairs and festivals of Rajasthan. I’ve always come back home with so many strangers who now are familiar to me on first name basis, who can recognize me from a mile away when I go back .Special ones like Suman have touched my heart with the struggles of the young girls put up with. Feeling nothing but blessed when I return from the 3 days of absolute mayhem I now look back at all these memories with nothing but sheer hope to see them again the next year.