The famed cattle fair is held at Sonepur, in Northern Bihar on the banks of the River Ganga. It is one Of the Asia’s largest cattle fair. The Sonepur Cattle Fair or Sonepur Mela (सोनपुर मेला) is held on Kartik Poornima (the full moon day) in the month of November in Sonepur, Bihar, on the confluence of river Ganges and Gandak. It is also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela and it attracts visitors from all over Asia. Till date, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia and stretches on from fifteen days to one month. It has its origins during ancient times. This is when Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. The Sonepur Cattle Fair once used to attract traders from places as distant as Central Asia.
Photo Credit : Kshitiz Anand
It was here at Sonepur in 1888, the first meeting of the “Indian Association of Cow Protection” seminar took place. It was here at the Sonepur mela (mela in Hindi) that the freedom fighter Veer Kunwar Singh took the occasion of the assembly to actively recruit and inspire the people for fighting against the British imperialism both before and during the First Indian was of Independence in 1857. The cover of Sonepur mela led to the main launch of the struggle movement against the British in Bihar. The Provincial Congress Committee of Bihar and the Bihar Kisan Sabha (Farmers union) also used this mela and the gathering as a recruitment ground. That is why Sonepur mela was considered a political hotbed during the colonial rule by the British and kept a watchful eye.
Sonepur fair in Bihar, India has its origins during ancient times. This is where Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges from Patliputra (Patna of ancient times). Now Sonepur mela is one of the biggest and the world’s greatest fair. It takes place annually, 35 kilometres from Patna, the capital of Bihar. Sonepur mela is held for 21 days in the month of November (from around 5-6th) at the junction of the rivers, Ganga and Gandak. It even has a legendary tale attached to it. Many believe that a struggle took place at this spot in Sonepur between the ruler of Gandharva, Huhu and Indraya muni; ultimately Lord Vishnu helping the weaker latter. That is why there is a vast gathering of devotees gathered at the confluence for the two holy rivers for the blessed dip at the adjacent “Harihar Nath temple” on the full moon day (Kartik Purnima). Many believe that Lord Ram established the temple on his way to Lanka. The locals regard that a dip here at this confluence of the 2 rivers is equivalent to giving away of 100 cows. However, it now attracts people from all geographical and religious diversity from the Punjab and Kashmir to Bhutan and Kerala. During the British Raj, merchants from Afghanistan and Britain used to attend.