Mhasa Yatra – Strolling The Ancient Indian Fair

When – Mhasa Yatra dates – Paush Purnima i.e. Full moon day of Paush (tenth Hindu month). Mhasa Yatra 2018 should fall on January 2nd per calendar and lasts for a week.

Where – Murbad taluka, Thane District, Maharashtra

We, Indians are very social people. We love to meet, banter, sing, dance, eat together; essentially we love to celebrate and have fun together. Our culture has evolved beautifully to create occasions to socialize through festivals. In ancient times, huge social gatherings were celebrated as “Jatra (Yatra)” or village fair in Maharashtra. They are basically annual fairs held in honor of local deity of the village. These huge gatherings were also an opportunity for the small and big traders around the village to do business.

Mhasa Fair
Mhasa Fair

Even today, this rich tradition is alive in rural India. I had pleasure of visiting one such traditional fair – “Mhasa Fair”. It is one of the Biggest Bullocks Trading Fair. It is held on Paush ( 10th month of Hindu Marathi calendar)  Purnima (Full Moon)  i.e. approximately in the month of January every year. The tradition of Mhasa Yatra  is more than 200 years old and the presiding deity of fair is Khamblingeshwar or Mhasoba(Lord Shankar ). Devotees come in thousands to offer their prayers to Lord Shankar from different parts of Maharashtra. Yatra is held over a sprawl of 1.5 to 2 kms surrounding the temple in Mhasa village.

Mhasa Yatra as the name suggests is held in Mhasa village located in Murbad taluka of Thane district. Murbad region is settled inside Sahyadri (Western Ghats) natural depression and is encompassed by the hills of Meena Maval and Kukad Maval.  Interestingly, the location of the Yatra is on the Ancient Trade Route of BhimashankarJunnar via Bail Ghat or Darya Ghat. It is interesting and fun to know about the history of the region from the locals around here. The region is surrounded by some of the oldest forts like Siddhagad and Gorakhgad.

Red Sindhi Breed Bullock
Red Sindhi Breed Bullock

The visitors number are more than a lakh to the fair annually. Most of them are from regions surrounding Murbad – living near Mumbai, Kalyan, Thane and surrounding places. There are traders not only from entire Maharashtra but from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and few other states visiting the fair. My friends visited the fair with a particular purpose of most interest to us. It holds one of the largest bullock fair and we wanted to observe all different breeds such as Gir, Sahiwal, Khillari etc. Some of these breeds are used for farming; some for the purpose of racing exclusively while some for only pulling carts. And yes, some of the breeds such as Red Sindhi breed look elegant and handsome!

Rural items for sale
Rural items for sale
For me, this fair is literal meaning of ‘Joy in small things’. Life is short and we experience small beauties in the simplest of things. The fair held so many tiny stalls selling delicious local food and items of essential utility to the villagers. These simple things are all we need to live happily. There were no fast food stalls, no A/C vans or loud speakers. Villagers around could buy pretty much everything – food, household items, farming tools, groceries. Beautiful handmade pots, blankets, pans. Unlike flea markets we observe in cities, these items were sold at reasonable price mostly by women. These women were smart and argued with the bargaining customers. Yet, they were professional and very friendly. And yes, they were sport enough to click pictures with us!
Rural women selling at Mhasa fair
Rural women selling at Mhasa fair
Indigineous villagers held talent shows to attract the crowds and make some money. In particular, I was completely awestruck with the girl balancing on tight rope. It was risky but girl was in complete control. In so much heat, she held her balance and supported her family! I am sure there must be a story behind her act – like story of every girl of rural India!
Balancing act of girl
Balancing act of girl
 It was time to leave. In just few hours and just 80-90 kms away from Mumbai, we were transported to a different world altogether. It is rustic, away from the luxuries of urban life. But it is better that way. India resides in villages and not cities. If you want to experience real India with its unspoilt fun and simple joys, this is the fair to visit. I had an amazing time with my friends and wish to visit Mhasa fair every year!
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2 Comment

  1. Feel so sad for animals being trad like this. Many years ago, we used to trade human slaves like this hopefully society will get more sensitive to these things.

  2. vilas raut says: Reply

    Good and correct information about mhasa yatra

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