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Archiver > INDIA > 2001-08 > 0998916743

From: "Wendy Firth" <>
Date: Mon, 27 Aug 2001 22:47:07 +0100

Thank you Mani and Nicholas...I look forward to seeing this site/sight!

Many Thanks Mani!
----- Original Message -----
From: Nicholas Forrest <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2001 3:12 AM

> Forward from Mani Francis
> Please refer to the Internet Site:
> rfair.htm
> ......................................................................
> ....................................
> Location :Sonepur, Bihar
> Time of the Kartik Purnima/November every
> year :year
> Duration :Fifteen days (approximately)
> Cycle :Yearly
> ......................................................................
> .....................................
> A visual extravaganza awaits all at the Sonepur Fair, where
> multitudes congregate on Kartik Purnima to offer obeisance to Harihar
> Nath and participate in what is the biggest cattle fair in
> Asia.Festivities stretch over a fortnight, giving visitors a feel of
> the pulse of Bihar.
> According to the Indian Almanac, the full moon day of Kartik
> Purnima,or Purnima of the month of Kartik, which usually falls in
> November, is one of the most auspicious of days. A number of big
> fairs
> are held at important places of pilgrimage. The HARIHA CHHETRA MELA
> near Sonepur is one of the biggest fairs held in India and is also
> the
> biggest cattle fair pilgrimage and the Harihar Kshetra Mela, as the
> Sonepur Fair is also known,is one of the biggest.
> Sonepur is located in the Saran district in the northern part of
> Bihar. This district shaped like a triangle is demarcated by three
> mighty rivers - the Ganga, Gandak, and Ghagra. Sonepur stands on the
> confluence of the Ganga and Gandak.
> The Sonepur Fair is of great antiquity and in olden times would
> attract
> importance and in the olden times,
> it attracted traders from as far as Central Asia. Like the origin of
> the HARIHAR NATH Temple, the reason for the inception of the SONEPUR
> FAIR is lost in the labyrinth of time. The site of the present fair
> was
> originally at Hajipur while only the pujas used to be offered in the
> temple at Sonepur. During the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb,
> the
> fair was shifted to Sonepur. During the period of British rule,in the
> pre-independence era, the European indigo planters used it as an
> occasion for social and sports gathering.
> The temple of Harihar Nath is naturally the main objective of the
> visitors to the fair after they have
> taken their ritual bath in the swirling waters of the Gandak. The
> original temple is believed to have been
> built by Lord Rama on his way to the court of King Janak to win
> Sita.
> The age and origin of the present
> temple has puzzled scholars but it is supposedly said that Raja Man
> Singh had it repaired. The builder of the present temple was Raja Ram
> Narain, a prominent figure during the late Mughal period. The Birlas
> recently conducted repairs and extension work in the temple. As in
> many
> other famous places of worship, a number of smaller temples of other
> deities surround the temple of Harihar Nath Mahadeo. When Once the
> pujasand the ablutions are over, the visitors abandon themselves to
> the
> various attractions offered in and around the sprawling mela ground.
> The village folk, particularly the women,as well as the others, are
> attracted to the array of shops selling all sorts of garments,
> weapons
> and furniture, toys, utensils, agricultural implements, jewelry and
> various handicrafts. The fair becomes a merchandise. virtual
> explosion
> of colors, music, dances, magic shows, cattle, merchants and
> handicrafts.
> The area that attracts all, however, is the one where the elephants
> are lined up for sale. The Sonepur
> Fair is the only one where such a large number of elephants are
> sold.
> These are mainly purchased by
> different forest departments and people involved with logging
> operations. Apart from elephants, a large
> number of cattle , a wide variety of animals and horses are also
> brought to the fair for sale.
> The fair continues for about fourteen days but the few days before
> and
> after the auspicious day of Kartik
> Purnima draw the maximum crowds. The sleepy mango grove, where the
> fair is organized, turns into a
> wonderland, sure to overwhelm the sophisticated urban visitor as
> well
> as the simple rural folk.
> Like so many places of pilgrimage in India, Sonepur also has its
> legend. It involves two kings both of who
> were turned into animals - akings, who were both turned into
> animals-a
> crocodile and an elephant by the curse of sages who were offended by
> them. Those daysIn those days, this area was supposed to have been
> girdled by hills with three towering peaks and a lake in the center.
> Once, while bathing in the lake with a party of women, a Gandharva
> chief named Huhu made fun of Dewala Muni by playfully pulling his
> leg. The ire of the sage took the form of a curse that turned Huhu
> into
> a crocodile. The other accursed person was Indradyumna, a king of the
> Pandyas, who was of a very pious nature but had offended the powerful
> sage, Agastya. The king had failed to notice the sage as he was in
> meditation when the sage visited him. The curse of the enraged
> Agastya
> turned Indradyumna into an elephant that took refuge in the woods
> surrounding the lake.
> One day while the elephant came with a herd to the lake to bathe, the
> gandharva-turned-crocodile caught his leg in its powerful jaws. Not
> to
> be taken lightly, the king of elephants tried to pull the crocodile
> up
> on the bank in an effort to crush him under his feet. A mighty
> battle
> ensued, which was joined by other crocodiles and elephants. The
> contest
> went on for thousands of years without any one being able to
> overpower
> the other. But ultimately, the King Elephant weakened and prayed to
> the
> supreme god Vishnu (Hari) to save him. His prayer was answered and
> Vishnu cut down the crocodile with his chakra (disc). The touch of
> the
> chakra, however, released Huhu from the curse and he went to heaven.
> Vishnu also released Indradyumna from his curse by touching his
> forehead and took the king to His abode, Vaikuntha.
> Sonepur is 25 kilometres from Patna, which is well connected by air,
> rail and road to the other parts of the country.
> ......................................................................
> .....................................
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