Pushkar Fair: An Eye-Opening Experience - Travel Diary
The Pushkar Fair is an annual event that draws international and Indian tourists alike to the holy city of Pushkar every November. It's a week-long festival where hundreds of camel herders from all over Rajasthan come to buy and sell their livestock.
As a photographer, I was there to capture the perfect portrait shot of the camel herders with their animals. That's when I spotted a man with the brightest yellow turban, and I decided he would be my subject.
I went over to sit and chat with his group and take a few pictures. But what I witnessed was something I never expected to see. They were drinking what looked like mud water! A herder mixed the mud-looking powder in water and poured a little into his hand. He then recited a lengthy prayer dedicated to Lord Shiva, which ended with him putting a tika (dot) on his forehead. Interestingly, the men drank this liquid from each other's hands.
Happy to have captured some interesting photographs, I left. It was later when it came to my knowledge that what they were having was perhaps the most surprising yet common thing consumed in Rajasthan. It was ‘doda post’, leftover husk from the poppy plant, the same plant responsible for producing opium, heroin and morphine.
Many older rural men in Rajasthan are addicted to this substance. In fact, doda post was legally sold in Rajasthan till April 2016.
This drug is not just relaxing or entertaining but also bears religious and political attachments to it.