Man has found out several ways of recreation change and social get together. Fair is ranked as one of these important methods of recreation, change and social get together. Usually, fairs are held on important dates and on important occasions and also at important places. For instance, every year a fair is held on the banks of Ganga on the last date of the month of Kartik. This is called the bathing fair. Birth places of important saints are also the places where fairs are held every year. Fairs are also held at important marketing centres, once or twice a year. Such fairs are intended at providing facility for sale and purchase of various types of goods. At certain places, specific fairs are held for sale and purchase of specific goods or commodities. Really speaking, a fair is an old socio-economic institution of the country that has been in existence since the earliest days of civilization On one hand, it strengthens the social bonds and religious feelings and on the other, it provides venues and opportunities for economic transactions.
Description of a fair-The fair of Harihar Kshettra
Every fair this is held once or twice in a year, has its own significance and importance. The place or the venue of the fair is full of all sorts of activities. On one hand thousands of people flock at the site of have to carry on transaction arrange their shops beautifully and the fair and on the other, lakhs of shopkeepers and the persons who nicely. There are things for purchase and sale, there are things that attract children and there are things that attract women folk and there are also the things that are of interest to men folk.
The fair of Harihar Kshettra in Bihar is a very important fait not only of that State but our of the country as a whole. This fair is important in many respects. It will be worthwhile to describe it briefly to give an idea of the fair.
Site of the fair
The fair of Harihar Kshettra is held near the Sonepur Railway Station of the Eastern Railways. Sonepur Rly. Station is famous for its big and wide railway platform and the fair of Harihar Kshettra adds to the significance of that Railway Station. It is also a place for pilgrimage. The story of fight between Gaj and Grah (Elephant and Crocodile) is said to be associated with the site of the fair. It is also said that this has been the playground of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning.
The site of the fair situated on the bank of the river
Ganga and it is held on the last date of the Indian month of Kartik, this is Kartik Purnima. Basically, it is considered to be bathing festival when thousands or people from far and distant places flock to this place to have a dip in the holy waters of the river Ganga and wash away their sin. The story of Raja Sagar is also associated with that place. It is said that all the thousand sons of Raja Sagar could get salvation only because of the importance of the waters of River Ganga. So, basically it is a religious fair but it has acquired social as well as economic importance also.
The whole of the three miles area on the east of Sonepur Railway Station dazzles with electric light and hundreds and thousands of people gather over here for religious, economic and social purposes. The place where only a few live, homes with activity on the occasion of the fair. Loudspeakers blare forward all sorts of music and different types of announcements. In short, the site of the fair of Harihar Kshettra, which is nothing more then a village area, becomes quite a modern and significant marketing centre like the Chaupati of Bombay or the Chaurangi of Calcutta.
Significance of Harihar Kshettra fair
Basically religious, the fair of Harihar Kshettra has now acquired the significance of being one of the biggest exhibition centers, sales and purchase market and fair of the animals. Formerly, here cows, bullocks, bulls, horses, elephants, etc. formed the main objects of attraction. Those interested in the sale and purchase of these animals used to come and even today gather at this fair. With the abolition of Zamindari, the attraction for elephants has virtually ended but the attraction for the animals that have importance in our socio-economic life still persists and people gather here have for their sale and purchase. Even dogs, goats and another types of small animals are also brought here for sale and purchase. The collection of all sorts of animals adds a new color to the fair.
Modern look of the fair
Although the fair of Harihar Kshettra is basically an animal fair, it has also acquired a modern look with the change of time. Different types of commodities and objects are brought here for sale. Artists and craftsmen bring their things for marketing, Similarly; other people also bring aesthetic and useful things to be sold in these places, Embroidery goods, things of fashion and other things of recreation are also brought over here for sale. All sorts of edibles are also to be seen in the fair. Improvised restaurants and hotels add the beauty, importance and significance of this fair. The saying that, a pin to an elephant is avail able at one place, is very much true about the fair of Harihar. Sweetmeat sellers, cloth dealers, grocers and other trades. men decorate their shops in the most attractive manner. Cinema houses, circus centres and such other activities are also set up over here. During the fair, the whole area becomes a sea of humanity.
Advantages and disadvantages of the fair
The fair of Harihar Kshettra, like other fairs, has a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages. On the one hand, it provides specialized marketing centre for animals and on the other it also provides an opportunity to the village people to purchase things for themselves while they go out for religious purpose. It also provides them an opportunity for re creation, outing and meeting people from other parts of the State.
Apart from these advantages, the fair has certain disadvantages also. The presence of thousands of animals pollutes the entire atmosphere unless very heavy and strict sanitary arrangements are made. The animals are likely to cause spread of different types of epidemics. Generally in such a huge fair, it is not possible to keep the sanitary arrangement very sufficient and nice. The vast sea of humanity also causes a problem for sanitation and it is not possible to make arrangement in a very hygienic manner. This again is the likely to spread epidemics.
Presence of thousands of people also becomes a problem of law and order. Village people had yet to be perfectly disciplined, since the presence of hundreds of people at one place of attraction can cause stamped and loss of the life as it happened sometimes back at time of the Kumbh fair at Allahabad.
In spite of all these advantages as well as disadvantages, this fair has acquired significance in many respects for the people of Sonepur and adjoining areas. It is, as already stated, not only one of the most important fairs of Bihar but also of the whole country. Once a person has seen this fair, it is difficult for him to forget the variety and activities and variegated goods be cause of the lasting impression on the mind of the spectator. For many years to come, it should continue to occupy the significance that it has acquired.