We have come to Bikaner for the camel festival. India does indeed have camel festivals, and we have indeed traveled half way round the world to see one. So you tell me who is crazy!
Gordon doing his Vanna White impression
A larger and quite famous camel fair is in Pushkar in November. The Bikaner Camel Fair is a much smaller affair and nowhere near as touristy.
Our guide turns out to be the perfect guide for the occasion. He is the President of two Travel Associations that promote tourism in the area and he has helped organise the camel festival. He knows everyone and everything and gets us in to the VIP area at the Stadium.
It begins with a procession of all the participants from the center of town to the Pavilion where it is being held. We join the throngs of mainly locals to watch them assembling.
Once everyone is in place they proceed along the streets
and past the famous fort
There is even a small Dykes on Bikes contingent
Once inside the stadium the procession circles so that the audience can see every contestant
Our guide gets us into the centre of the stadium where we can mingle with the contestants.
Then the competitions start
There is the Best Dressed Camel Competition
Some leftover Christmas Decorations can come in handy
But through it all the camels retain their dignity
Although it isn’t always easy
Then there is the Camel Shaving Competition
There are marching bands
There are swirling male dancers
And swirling female dancers. This one is the best of them all and is clearly a man, although no one ever mentions it:
We learn that despite their laws against homosexuality, there is a custom of men dressing up as women to perform these dances. We soon notice that there are several young men who have taken this chance to reveal their feminine side
And those that don’t, enter the Mr Bikaner Desert Competion instead. Here is this years winner, who clearly knows how to strike a pose too
But he seems to be a bit overshadowed by last years winner
Through it all the camels and their helpers watch from their enclosure.
Finally our guide tells us that he has arranged for us to be interviewed by the press. He is trying hard to promote the Festival internationally and so he wants to show that even people from California are prepared to come.
At the end of a very long and wonderful day both we and the Fabulosity Meter are exhausted. We retire back to our equally fabulous hotel.