Pushkar Mela hit by lumpy skin disease

Third straight disruption for Rajasthan’s iconic fair


November 14, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Pushkar Mela hit by lumpy skin disease

Rajasthan is among the worst affected states by the lumpy skin disease with 1.5 million animals affected and over 70,000 dead

Known as the biggest cattle fair of India, the Pushkar Mela in Rajasthan has traditionally attracted thousands of tourists from India and overseas to its vivid range of festivities. However, the widespread outbreak of lumpy skin disease in India has led to a disruption in the event, for the third consecutive year as in 2020 and 2021, the fair was hit severely by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rate this post

Cattle trading is a key highlight of the colourful and vibrant fair Pushkar which is held annually in the holy month of Kartik in Pushkar town, in Rajasthan, around 150 km away from the state capital, Jaipur. The cattle fair is held on the dunes in Pushkar and to which dozens of cattle rearers come from different parts of the state, as well as from neighbouring states, with their cattle, mainly camel and horses.

The fair has been one of the biggest magnets for tourists, domestic and international alike as tens of thousands of them gather at Pushkar to get a taste of not just the animal trading, but numerous activities that are organised during the fortnight-long fair. There are numerous attractions for the visitors, ranging from Rajasthani dances and music to watching trapeze artists perform stunts as well as various animal competitions and sampling delectable traditional Rajasthani meals.

However, the tourists to the fair this year are in for a huge disappointment this year as the department of animal husbandry of Rajasthan has announced a ban on animal trade due to the large-scale spread of lumpy skin disease across India and notably in Rajasthan, which has claimed thousands of cattle in the past couple of months.

Lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a highly contagious viral disease of cattle and buffalo. Infection typically includes symptoms like fever, 2-5 cm sized skin nodules and leads to abortion in pregnant animals as well as a reduction in their milk yield. It is also fatal and has already killed thousands of farm animals in India so far. LSD is spread by movement of affected animals, by insects or parasites such as flies, mosquitoes and ticks, by contaminated equipment and directly from animal to animal in some cases.

According to the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, as of September 23, the disease has led to the deaths of over 100,000 cattle and infected over 2 million others across 16 states. The number of deaths due to lumpy skin disease this year is 20 times the fatalities that occurred last year due to India’s three major cattle diseases, the foot and mouth disease which led to 4,881 deaths, haemorrhagic septicaemia leading to 98 deaths and anthrax that claimed 84 cattle.

The first case of lumpy skin disease was reported in April in Gujarat’s Kutch region. The government says the caution of not allowing cattle fair to happen in Pushkar is justified because Rajasthan was among the worst affected states by the lumpy skin disease with 1.5 million animals affected and over 70,000 dead.

The outbreak and its severity have caught the government and scientists by surprise. “The only disease to cause such havoc in cattle in the past was rinderpest, which was eradicated globally in 2011,” Bhupendra Nath Tripathi, Deputy Director General, Animal Sciences, Indian Council Of Agriculture Research (ICAR) tells Media India Group.

A jinxed fair

The lumpy skin disease outbreak this year is not the only thing to have robbed Pushkar of its flair and fun in the past three years. The fair has also been a victim of the coronavirus pandemic which severely hit the fair in 2020 and in 2021. Though the number of visitors this year may be much higher than in the past two years, a Pushkar fair is literally unimaginable without any animals.

Abreedha Banu, a social media travel influencer, who recently travelled to Pushkar Mela says that compared to the last time, 2022 saw a huge turnout in terms of crowds that were truly dazzled with the festivities. “Yet the Mela was incomplete without the camels, for which the fair is really famous for,” Banu tells Media India Group.

Banu is not the only one to have missed the animals. “I have been in Pushkar for decades.  It has become an annual ritual for animal herders to come to Pushkar to buy and sell animals for generations. But it wasn’t the same this year. With the pandemic and now the cattle ban, everything has changed about the Pushkar Mela.  From around 300 camels that came here in 2019, it reached down to around 200 camels this year,” Ashish Rawat, a sand artist from Pushkar, tells Media India Group.

Rawat adds that many herders who were unaware of the disease and the ban, walked hundreds of kilometers with their camels to Pushkar were pushed away from the Mela ground by the police.

“Many were unaware of the lumpy disease outbreak as the herders mainly are uneducated and don’t know what is happening in the outside world. Each year, they walk for days before the mela starts as they  come from faraway places with their animals, hoping to earn a living from the money they get from the Mela. But since many were unaware of the cattle ban, they were shattered completely and had to leave the place,” says Rawat. 



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *