34. A village Fair
India is a land of villages though urbanization is taking place at a fast pace. Still, most of the people in India live in villages. They do not have many means of entertainment and shopping in the village and have to go to the nearby towns for this purpose. But fairs, which are held frequently in villages, provide them a welcome relief.
A fair is also held in my village every year on the day of Baisakhi. The Baisakhi always falls on the thirteenth day of April every year. It is on this day that the farmers start harvesting their wheat crops in northern India. Hence the day is celebrated with great joy with only little variations from, village to village. I went to see the Baisakhi fair held in my village last year. It covered quite a vast area outside the village.
Avery large numbers of people from nearby villagss were making a bee-line to the fair. There were a large number of stalls. At many stalls, sweets and other eatables were available in large quantities. Large-turbaned men and women, with their heads covered, were sitting on benches and were eating colourful barfi, rasgullas and gulab jamuns. Some of them were taking saltish dishes like samosas and pakoras.
Still others were taking purees and kachories with cooked grams or potatoes. Some stalls were selling colourful toys, balloons and balls. There was a great rush at stalls selling ladies’ items like glass bangles, bracelets, necklaces, nail-polishes, lipsticks and several other items of artificial jeweler.
Some religious minded old ladies preferred to buy clay images of gods and goddesses or attractive pictures of deities. Cassettes of devotional hymns and film songs were also being displayed and were in great demand.
In one corner, a juggler was showing his tricks. And in another corner a snake-charmer was singing with his pipe in front of a Cobra who had its hood raised while a large crowd of people stood around.
After some time, both the juggler and the snake charmer appealed to the people for money. The people paid money on voluntary basis and according to their will and capacity, while some just watched as a free show. There were certain games of skill in one stall which was a special attraction for the merry young men.
However, one great attraction of the fair was the “Bhangra”, the folk dance of Punjab, which was being performed most enthusiastically by young boys for the sheer joy of doing it. And similar was the case with “Giddha” performed by young girls. The fair was like a paradise.