Vautha about 50 km from Ahmedabad and 26 km from Dholka, is a small village with only 2000 inhabitants. Yet it holds one of Gujarat’s biggest fairs. The Vautha Fair is primarily a trading fair, with a variety of handicraft and food stalls, active street hawkers and merchants selling everything from trinkets to machinery. It is also Gujarat’s largest livestock fair, held at the confluence of the Sabarmati and Vatrak Rivers. Thousands of donkeys, camels and cows change hands, and some 25,000 maldhari pastoralists camp here for several days. In the evenings, numerous small lamps are set afloat in the river by devout pilgrims, producing a shimmering dance of faith and beauty. Also Read - Yogi Prahlad Jani, Who Claimed to Survive Without Food or Water For 76 Years, Dies at 90 in Gujarat
This fair is held during Kartika Purnima, the full moon night of the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar, corresponding roughly to the month of November and lasts for five days. The festival brings together more than 500,000 visitors through the five days of the fair. Also Read - 'I Will Never Leave': Uttarakhand Man Returns Home After 24 Years Amid COVID-19 Lockdown, Family Fails to Recognise Him
For some this place is as divine as the sangam in Prayagraj, and many communities consider this fair more important than Diwali. Seven holy rivers mix waters here: the Vatrak merges with the Meshwo, Hathmati, Shedhi, Majum and Khari before it meets the Sabarmati, so the locals call it saptasangam (meeting of seven). Also Read - Lockdown 4.0: Gujarat Allows Opening of Salons And Beauty Parlours in Non-Containment Zones
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Hundreds of families from even nearby villages lock up their homes and move into tents here to enjoy the fair for five days. They cook different sweets for each day, often ending with laddoos on the last day of festivity. However, the favourite foods here are the khichu and kachariyu.
Another important aspect of the fair is when people take a purifying bath in the sacred river on the full moon night, which is believed to absolve one from all sins. Legends hold that on a full moon night Kartikeya, the son of Shiva, visited this site on Kartika Purnima during his journey around the earth, and performed austerities at the meeting point of the rivers. His footsteps are still worshipped here.