The annual Sonepur Fair in Bihar is a vibrant rural fair that combines spirituality with elephants, cattle, horses and birds. It gets underway on the auspicious Hindu holy occasion of Kartik Purnima, when pilgrims take an early morning bath in the river, and continues for a month. Street magicians, spiritual gurus, snack stalls, handicrafts, amusement rides, circus performers, and theater all create a carnival like no other.
While the animals and birds used to be traded, revised wildlife laws have curbed this activity in recent years.
Apparently, the Sonepur Fair has ancient origins back to the rule of India’s first Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who used to buy elephants and horses from it for his army. The Fair also commemorates the intervention of Lord Vishnu to end a great curse and long fight between elephant and crocodile in Hindu mythology.
These are purchased mainly by forest departments and people involved with logging operations. Apart from elephants, a large number of cattle and horses are also brought to the fair for sale. Various folk shows, games and jugglers can be seen in the fair.