PATNA: For the first time in the annals of Asia’s longest and biggest cattle fair, popularly known as the Sonepur fair in Bihar's Saran district, a nine-member committee has been formed to invite elephant owners from all over Bihar, UP and Jharkhand.
In the last few years, the arrival of elephants at the fair has become almost negligible after a ban on their sale was imposed in 2000. In 2018, only one elephant arrived at the fair, which was once famous for the arrival of a huge number of jumbos to bathe with a sea of humanity at the confluence of the river Ganga and Gandak.
The Sonepur fair starts on the eve of Kartik Poornima every year and is organised by the state tourism department.
This year, it will take place from November 11 to December 11 at Sonepur, about 30 km north of the state capital. More than 50,000 domesticated cattle and birds are brought to the fair for sale, while elephants are brought for the show at the famous Haathi bazaar.
The Saran district administration formed the committee after being requested by organisers of the fair to ensure the arrival of elephants.
Munmun Singh, one of the nine members of the committee, said they recently went to Samastipur district to invite elephant owner Dharmendra Singh to bring his elephants to the fair. “He has assured to send his elephants this year. We are inviting many other owners to send their elephants too,” he said, adding that more than 50 elephants are expected this time.
The state tourism department has set up a cluster of 20 Swiss cottages in the fair in order to provide cosy accommodation to foreigners, who come in good numbers to enjoy the rural ambience of the fair.
Official sources said that cottages have been booked for foreigners at the fair. “The tariff of each cottage for the first seven days has been fixed at Rs 6000 plus GST. This will be gradually reduced to Rs 4000 from November 19 to 26, Rs 2500 from November 27 to December 3 and Rs 1500 from December 4 to 11," said an official.