Pushkar Travel Diary
Pushkar fair has become a tourist delight in the past few years. Lots of international and Indian tourists flock there every November. In addition, hundreds of camel herders from villages far and wide in Rajasthan make their way to the holy city of Pushkar for a week every November to buy and sell their livestock.
Like the others, I was there trying to get the perfect portrait shot of the villagers with the camels when I spotted a man with the brightest yellow turban and decided he would be my subject.
I went to sit and chat with his group and take a few pictures. This was when I discovered a different side to Pushkar. What I saw at that moment in front of me was odd; it was camel herders drinking what looked like mud water. A herder mixed the mud-looking powder in water and poured a little in 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 with 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. However, rampant use of this substance has left thousands of people addicted to it. And it is in this context that during government elections, voters are often lured using this contraband substance.
This drug is not just relaxing or entertaining but also bears religious and political attachments to it.