To be `Fair’, Donkeys Are Back in News, This Time From UP

In the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh elections, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav dragged donkeys into debate. Now, donkeys are back in news in Uttar Pradesh. Watch why:

Donkey Fair
Gardhabh Mela in Uttar Pradesh

The ‘poor’ animal donkey was a much-talked topic in the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. ‘Gujarat ke gadhe’ jibe had become the main debate from the then CM Akilesh Yadav in an indirect jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Post-election and with a new government in Uttar Pradesh at the helm headed by firebrand Hindutva leader Yogi Adityanath, donkeys are back in news.

This time, they are not from Gujarat. In fact, the local donkeys in Uttar Pradesh are selling like ‘hot cakes’ at a fair ‘Gardhabh Mela’ or donkey fair — dedicated to the animal and the largest such fairs in India .

Hundreds of decorated donkeys were put up for sale on Tuesday at a donkey fair in Uttar Pradesh. Held annually at the Sheetla Devi Dham in Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh, the fair witnesses the convergence of traders and customers who come to buy donkeys, horses and mules. Sheetla Devi’s vehicle is a donkey. Akhilesh Yadav, please note.

The fair, also sees people who come to feed milk, grams and other things to the donkeys as it is believed that the animals grant people’s wishes. Some donkeys were coloured so that they do not get lost in the crowd.

The donkeys sold at the fair carry the pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir state, which adds to the religious importance of the fair. Apart from trade of animals, the fair also sees stalls selling decorative items, carts and carriages.

People from the washer men community also take part in this historic fair in huge numbers for buying donkeys used in their trades and also for fixing marriages of their children as they believe the fair to be blessed.

Raj Shankar

Shankar Raj is a senior journalist with more than 30 years experience, mostly with The Indian Express and The New Indian Express. He was the Editor for Karnataka and Kerala editions of The New Indian Express, and former Managing Editor of the Nyusu Digital Media P Ltd. Bengaluru.

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