|An elephant in the Gandak during the cattle fair
at Sonepur. Telegraph picture
Sonepur fair will not lose its rustic charm.
After the fair ended in December last year, Sunil Kumar, who was tourism minister then, had talked about “evolving” with the cattle market, its most important feature, being given a modern makeover. However, the break-up between the BJP and the JD(U) has raised hope for the fair organisers who wanted to retain the old-world charm.
“The cattle fair is an integral and inseparable part of the Sonepur paraphernalia. In fact, the fair, which starts on Kartik Purnima (November 16 this year), was mainly a selling point of cattle when it started long back. Hence, removing something for which the fair is famous is a bad idea. With hardly three months to go, the department plans to make the cattle market a grander affair than the usual. In the last few years, the cattle market in the fair has lost its shine as only a few people, mostly local villagers, turned up. The department is trying to change the scenario once again,” a department official said.
The official added that with the final plans still being discussed, the department was compiling a list of people from across the country who were well known and owners of different kinds of animals.
“This time, we are hoping for co-operation from the Union ministry of tourism too. Also, people in India with popular pets, may be one or more beautiful horses or elephants and others are also being contacted. Once they are identified, formal invites will be sent to them requesting their presence in the fair. They, in addition to the local animal owners, will give the cattle market a fresh lease of life. In addition to this, the fair witnesses several shows of the animals like the horse racing. The department plans to make these shows regular and more organised all through the fair. Apart from this, the cattle market and the cattle shows will be telecast through different electronic media so that people can see them and get attracted to the fair,” he said.
Since last year, the state tourism department has been entrusted with the task of organising the fair. Before this, the revenue department, in association with the Saran district administration, used to manage the event.
“The department, at present, is giving a thought on two things. The first plan is to come up with permanent stalls in the area on the lines of the Dilli Haat. The permanent stalls will ensure that people come to the place all round the year. The second plan is to make a water theme entertainment park in the area. For this, the department is willing to acquire extra land along the same place if required,” he added.