Devotion and business go hand-in-hand during Shivarathri at Nandi in Chikkaballapur and Aavani village in Mulbagal.
The Ramalingeshwaraswami fair in Mulbagal celebrated with much pomp and gaiety also provides a chance to cattle-rearers. In fact, the fair is popularly known as the cattle fair where thousands of farmers gather to buy and sell cattle. Since the fair is organised usually around the Shivarathri festival, the fair has a historical significance to it.
Devotees throng Sri Ramalingeshwaraswami and Seetha Parvathi Kamakshi Devi in th village as it is believed that the temples were built by Sri Rama’s family members on the direction of sage Valmiki.
However, it is the cattle fair that is more popular here on Shivarathri day. Farmers from Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bangalore rural and also from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh participate in the fair.
At least, a business of Rs 10 crore can be witnessed during the fair. As a tradition, the best of breeds attracts prizes from the government. Middlemen make merry during the fair as they earn not less than Rs 500 per day. But these days farmers come with an expert on cattle trade to save themselves from middlemen.
To enable a smooth trade fair, the Zilla Panchayat and Gram Panchayat have set up water tanks to meet the drinking water needs of farmers and their livestock. Besides, the Muzrai Department has not been collecting stall fees from the farmers since three years, as a gesture of kind.
A few philanthropists donate money on behalf of the participating farmers to the government. These gestures have encouraged farmers to come here every year making it a popular cattle fair in the region.
Coming under the wave of modernity, residents of most villages in the district are trying hard to retain their conventions and traditions. The cattle fair at Nandi village is a practice or tradition, which tries to bring together people from different places.
A fair has been organised at Bhoganandeeshwara Temple premises on Monday. Cattle fair is a part of the fair. This year, the number of oxen brought for the fair are large as not only people from surrounding areas, but also from Bangalore rural, Tumkur and Kolar have brought their cattle.
The fair is spread from entrance of Kuppahalli to Nandi village. Various breeds of cattle including Amrithmahal have arrived here. People interested in buying are looking at various aspects including the health and appearance of cattle. A pair of oxen of good breed costs Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. The usual breed of cattle and calf is priced at Rs 20 thousand to 30 thousand.
“Rural fairs and practices are fading away due to modernisation. Even number of people visiting temples and fairs have come down considerably. Most youths have shifted to cities. But still, many visit the village during fairs and attend festivals. So, this is a happy occasion, Mallappa told Deccan Herald.
“Earlier, the fair was conducted for 15 days. As the time passed, it came up to 10 days. But now it is conducted only for four to five days. Even the number of oxen being brought to the fair has come down to two pair from 15 to 20,” he added.
Some farmers have been attending the fair for 30 years now. Some of them have won prizes for the best pair of oxen. Many have come to the fair with an expectation to win the award for the best pair of oxen.