Sonepur Mela, arguably Asia’s largest cattle fair, was inaugurated on Wednesday. However, the numerous kiosks of agricultural equipment, automobiles and fast-moving consumer goods seem to have outnumbered the cattle. Altogether, 24-state government departments, including agriculture, health, education and industries among others, have booked kiosks and have started putting up the structures as well. Apart from the government departments, stalls are also being set for readymade garments, hosiery and woolen items, handicrafts, cutlery, electrical and electronics, automobiles and leather goods and equipment among others.
Modernisation has also offered the visitors adventure sports like parasailing, hot air balloon, water skiing, water canning and all terrain vehicle ride at the fair from November 10 and 16.
The preparation for the fair was going on for the past one month.
According to the tourism minister Javed Iqbal Ansari the government is working on plans for overall development of Harihar Kshetra so that people come here throughout the year.
The local villagers at Sonepur seem concerned about the dwindling number of animals. Villagers say that the fair is most likely to be referred as cattle fair just for namesake within a few years. Traders from outside the state have stopped coming here. Animal traders from places like Punjab, Haryana, Bengal and Odisha used to come with elephants, camel, cows and bull among others. But they have stopped coming here from around a decade now because there is less sale and the government is also not doing much to make this fair more animal-centric.
Visitors can also expect an array of cultural and adventure sports activities over the month long fair.