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 Camel Festival, ( )

For two days every year in the month of January, the city of Bikaner comes alive with the celebration of the Camel Festival. The festival is organised by the Art and craft Department of Rajasthan Tourism with an intention of attracting more and more tourists to this city which is famous for its camels. Actually, camel has a very significant place in the history of Bikaner. In earlier times when technology was not advanced and when motor cars were still to roll out on roads in India, reaching Bikaner was an arduous task. Had it been a plain region like the many of the cities of the country, then transportation problems would have been minimal. However, Bikaner lies in the desert region and hence no other animal, with the exception of camel, could afford a comfortable foray into its heart. Hence, camel became an intrinsic part of the lives of the people who depended on it to ferry not only humans but also goods. Today, even when cars have taken away much of pressure from our Ship of Desert, camels continue to hold their place intact. Infact, it will not be wrong to say that the Camel Festival is also a sort of recognition of the importance of camel in this region and their tremendous contribution in easing up life here.

The festival starts off with a parade of beautifully decorated camels from the Junagarh Fort. The camel owners make sure that their camels do not look lesser than the other camels. They decorate the camels with colourful bridles and saddles and tie anklets around the feet. The processions comes out in the open where the festivity takes another step forward.

Competitions begin to judge the best breed camel, best decorated camel and best fur cut design of camel. Contest for camel milking and best camel hair cut bring a little focus on human beings, however, it is soon disappeared because there is a camel dance contest as well! This is perhaps the only time when the camels turn dancer, and that too a good one! Swaying to the direction of their masters, they surprise even their fiercest critics by their graceful moves. The audience cheers the camels with their applause while the anklets express their appreciation by tinkling along with every step.

Next day is even more exciting because this is the time when camels turn a bit competitive and throw a challenge before their brethrens to defeat them in a race. With loudest of cheers from their supporters, the camels rush to reach their finishing point. The winner, ofcourse, is a cynosure of all eyes. Sometimes there is a bit of entertainment during the race when the camels refuse to even get up, leave alone running towards the finishing post. The owners prodding their camels to make a move can present a very hilarious scene. Similarly, many a times camel make a U-turn in the midst of the race and come back to the starting point!

Both the evenings culminate with the finest of dance performances from the local artists. In addition, the dazzling fireworks at the conclusion of the festival add to its glittering charm. During the two day festival, sweets prepared from the milk of camel satisfies the sweet tooth of the visitors.

To conclude, the festival is a time when the people of Bikaner come out of their home to be part of a colourful and exciting festival. It is a time when the owner and his camel synchronise their efforts to emerge victorious in all the competitions. And above all, it is a time when tourists flock in large number to witness the rural lifestyle and culture of the Rajasthan.



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