World Music Celebrations: Camel Fest!

Jan 25, 2013

Each week on World Music (Saturday nights from 8-10 on KSTX 89.1 FM), I take a look at celebrations happening around the world. This week, there'll be a beauty pageant for camels in India, and Scots transform into Vikings at the Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Read more about these unique festivals below, and see video of past celebrations!


How good are your dance moves? As good as the Ship of The Desert? This weekend in Bikaner, everyone dances--girls, boys, and camels! This is part of a yearly camel festival, held in the fortified, 16th century city. As Bikaner is located in the middle of a desert in Rajasthan, India, camels are an integral part of life for the people of the area. They provide transportation, haul heavy loads and provide milk. During the camel festival the hard working animals go to beauty parlors to be groomed. Their coats are woven into exquisite patterns, and they are decked in sumptuous blankets. The least ugly camel is the winner of the beauty pageant.


Scottish people are generally considered to be reserved, and perhaps a little dour, but all that goes out the window at the annual Lerwick Up Helly Aa. Shetland Islanders are transformed into Vikings, complete with all the Viking accoutrements, such as winged helmets, silver chain mail clothing, rawhide sandals, and of course daggers, battle axes and impressive shields. The Up Helly Aa, which bills itself as Europe's "largest fire festival," dates back to 1882, but has roots going back to pagan times. It’s an evening of torch lit processions culminating in the burning of Viking galley. Post burning, folks settle into an night of partying. Needless to say, the next day, January 30th, is a public holiday.  

You can hear more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this and every Saturday on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.