Sonepur Mela and Varanasi
Sonepur Mela is the largest Asian cattle fair, celebrated for a month following the full moon in October/November, is held annually 30km from Patna, in the northern area of Bihar, along the banks of the holy River Ganga/Ganges. The fair is important for Hindus and attracts visitors from all over India and the world. Devotees will bathe in the river near the Hariharnath temple, whilst tribesmen trade all types of cattle, dogs, birds and of course elephants, which are presented elaborately decorated.
Varanasi is the holiest of the seven cities; for Hindu’s there are four key places that form part of the cycle of birth and death, and if a Hindu dies in Varanasi, they achieve ‘moshka’, salvation, and so is an important city for pilgrims who bathe in along the banks of the holy River Ganga/Ganges. Families travel with loved one to be with them at the time of death and have their bodies cremated in special Ghats along the river, before their ashes are set free in the river. Life and death exist side by side along the narrow busy streets, and along the river people carry out their devotions, wash and carry out their daily routines.