The famed cattle fair is held at Sonepur, 30kms from Patna in Northern Bihar on the banks of the River Ganga. During this month-long fair, cattle decorated for the occasion throng the venues of the town.
The full moon day of the month of Kartik (November) is regarded as one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus. Sonepur situated on the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga and Gandak, has the reverence of a blessed ground. A bath at the confluence and a visit to the Hariharnath temple here is the aim for thousands of devotees on the Kartika Purnima day. The 'Hariharnath Kshetra Mela' is now more known for the cattle fair held during this time.
The fair starts on Kartik Purnima (the full moon day) in November and lasts for around a month. It begins as a religious Hindu festival with thousands of pilgrims taking a ritual bath in Gandak river, near its confluence with the Ganges, on the full moon day. Spiritual activities are the main point of Sonepur Mela for a couple of days. When all pilgrims are gone back to their towns and villages the religious event transforms itself into a large trade fair and amusement park.
Nearly all domestic animals are traded there – all breeds of dogs, camels, buffaloes, horses, birds and poultry. However, the area that attracts the biggest crowd is the one where elephants are lined up for sale and the mela is the only one where such a large number of elephants is sold. Apart from the animals countless goods and services are offered and traded, such as clothing, beauty products, food, electronics and cars. Together with commercial activities there are many entertainment options available. A festive, carnival atmosphere prevails – giant ferries wheels, numerous rides, wells of deaths, circuses and various performance shows offer amusement for families, children, women and men. The whole event continues for about a month and attracts thousands visitors daily.