Born due to a flower: Pushkar


I have visited this small town several times, and if you do travel to India it would be of interest to pay a visit. It is located in southwestern Rajasthan about 150 kms from Jaipur and 15 km from the major city of Ajmer. The road from Jaipur to Ajmer is a new four-lane road to Ajmer, followed by a country road into the Aravali hills and on to Pushkar. This small town has gained attention for its yearly five-day camel/cattle fair. Thousands of villagers descend on the town dressed in their finest, ready to race/sing/worship, and to sell cattle and camels. This is an amazing festival unto itself, but I would like to highlight the religious festival of Shivratri.

The name Pushkar means “born due to a flower”. According to Indian mythology, the gods released a swan with a lotus flower in its beak and where it fell would become the site of a great blessing from Brahma (the Creator). This lotus fell into Pushkar Lake and as a result, the village became a very sacred place as one of the few temple complexes devoted to Brahma. Please keep this in mind if you plan to visit: There is no sale or consumption of meat or alcohol in the village. As well, one must show reverence for the temple areas.

The photo you see to the left was taken during the festival of Shivratri. It is a very important religious festival devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva (the destroyer). It occurs on a moonless night in a month corresponding to our month of February, according to the Hindu calendar. The devotees observe a strict fast and make a puja (offering) to the Shiva lingams. These ancient fertility statues are found in the temples, and are bathed in honey or ghee and milk in order to absolve worshipers from their past sins. The entire town is out celebrating. Many of the local participants are known to me, so it is always great to see the entire village from young to old celebrating.