Sonepur situated in the Bihar state of India has a special fair that takes place every year. It is a very important event and occupies a big place in the tradition of Biharis. This fair is also called the Malegaon Mela and is held at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Gandak. It is hailed as the largest cattle fair in the whole of Asia as it goes on from about 15 days to 30 days. The magnitude of the event is much higher than any other cattle melas conducted ever in India. People from far and wide come to become a part of this great occasion which also includes the tourists both domestic and international. The fair goes for 30 days but the preparation for the fair takes about two to three months as the locals need to feed and make the cattle healthy and strong and the other items that are sole there also needs preparation. People in Bihar wait anxiously for the Cattle fair in Sonepur to begin and they take great pride in becoming a part of such an eventful occasion. The enthusiasm, excitement and vigor is reflected clearly in the eyes and faces of the people.
The story of the fair as told by the locals is that it all started during the time of the Chandragupta Maurya who used to indulge in selling and buying of elephants and horses near the banks of river Ganga. They say people from as far as Central Asia used to come there to seal deals with him for cattle.
The cattle fair in Sonepur has an array of animals that are traded here such as buffaloes, horses, camels, dogs, cats, donkeys, ponies, goats, sheep and many more. There are also beautiful birds that are traded here. However, what is most significant in being a part of the fair is that in this mela you will find a ‘Haathi bazaar’ where beautifully decorated elephants are lined up for sale. It is illegal to be selling elephants but probably in India, it is only Sonepur where elephants are traded in such a way. People from far and wide come to see the hustling business taking place in the mela. Apart from these there are many shops and stalls where can buy traditional and ethnic clothing, artifacts and other such items which can be a great souvenir to take back home. Thus, the mela also gives an opportunity to the locals to have some extra earnings. Besides, there are great cultural shows too where one can get to see the traditional folk dance, music and other cultural glimpses in the mela. Thus, it is also an amalgamation of cultures there besides giving an economical boost to the area. One can also find stalls put up to educate people about cattle rearing and other related topics.
Sonepur is easily accessible for it is well connected by roads and railways. It is a very important event for many outsiders comes here too for buying purpose which indeed has turned profitable for the locals and has also given a boost to the tourism industry here.