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Sonepur’s famous animal fair losing its mojo; fans seek national fair status

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Sonepur’s famous animal fair losing its mojo; fans seek national fair statusDecember 10, 2023Hajipur, Dec 10 (IANS) The Asia-famous Sonepur animal fair held on the confluence of the Ganges and Gandak rivers is losing its sheen.The fair is also known as ‘Hari-Har Kshetra Mela’, where the Hindu devotees come to take a dip at the confluence and offer prayers at Harihar Nath, the only temple in the world where Lord Shiva (Har) and Lord Vishnu (Hari), both the gods are seated together.Sonepur Fair in Bihar’s Saran district, where until past few years one could had got everything ranging from needle to elephants, is now just being held to continue with the tradition.However, local people are demanding a national fair tag for this historic and mythological fair.The month-long fair, starting from Kartik Purnima, was inaugurated this year by Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav on November 25.Major attractions for this month-long fair this year are underwater fish tunnels and modern swings. However, this year elephants are not there.Earlier, the fair’s attractions were horse racing and elephant bathing, but this year it has not been organised till now, much to the disappointment of people.Ajit Singh, resident of Hajipur and Danapur JNL College Professor, told IANS that earlier elephants and horses were the main attractions of the tourists in Sonepur Fair, which is famous as an animal fair.Due to various restrictions, entry of animals from other states was banned, he said.Earlier, precious Arabian horses from Kabul, Multan of Afghanistan were sold in the fair here. All breeds of horses used to be available in ‘Ghoda Mandi’ (horse market), and horse lovers used to come to Sonepur to buy them. People interested in buying horses used to come from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.If we dig into history, we will find that Mughal Emperor Akbar’s chief commander Maharaja Man Singh had come to the Sonepur fair and purchased elephants and weapons for the royal army.Maurya dynasty founder Chandragupta Maurya, Akbar and Veer Kunwar Singh, the hero of the Gadar of 1857, had also purchased elephants from here.State Cooperative Minister Surendra Yadav said on an open forum that “due to the thinking of some people, the Sonpur fair is losing its sheen.A minister on condition of anonymity said that there is no dearth of people coming to set up their businesses and stalls at his event but those organising ‘Maut Ka kuan’ (well of death) and theatres are given license after a long time.–IANSmnp/svn

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