If you thought your hairstylist was amazing, wait until you see what living masterpieces these Indian camel enthusiasts can create with just scissors and a lot of patience.
Every year, the desert city of Bikaner, in India’s state of Rajasthan, hosts one of the most colorful events in the world – the Bikaner Camel Festival. Home to the only camel breeding farm in India, and one of the largest such farms in all of Asia, it’s only natural this city should have a festival dedicated to the useful humped animal. The popular event takes place over two days, in January, and draws in camel breeders from all over Rajasthan, as well as tourists from all around the world. This homage to camels includes various events, from camel races and rides, to camel haircut competitions and even a camel beauty pageant.
Photo: Steve Hoge
Although many of the thousands of visitors who flock to Bikaner for the desert festival eagerly await the camel races that take place during the second day, I for one found the shearing and beauty contests the most fascinating. In the shearing competition, artists wielding sharp scissors transform their camels into breathing works of art, by shaving their coats to make room for traditional Indian patterns. For the beauty contest, most breeders adorn their camels with colorful accessories to attract the attention of the judges, but don’t be surprised if you see some humped ones wearing make-up, as well…
Situated in the heart of the Indian desert belt, Bikaner has always been a hard place to reach, and before motor vehicles became available, the people of these land depended on camels for their transportation. In fact, the camels of this region were famous for their endurance, strength and beauty.
Photo: Aria Niwas