Malmas Fair is globally known for its high-pitched attendance and attention for attaining religious and cultural merit. It is known for its kunds (warm ponds). These kunds are said to contain some medicinal properties which help to cure some skin diseases. Each and every tourist, those who visit to Malmas Fair, does not skip to take a bath in these kunds. The Malmas Fair is organised in Rajgir, a historical place since Mahatma Budha era, is located 15 kms from Nalanda. Rajgir is one of the important tourist places in India, the town is located in a valley which is sheltered with lush green forests, which make it a very scenic place. The picturesque Rajgir is surrounded by the river Banganga and five hills.
The month-long Malmas Fair is one of the biggest fair in India. The fair brings together 15 to 20 lakhs people on board. The ongoing fair started on 18th of August which will continue till 17th of September; however the fair can go longer as well. Sanjay Kumar Agarwal, District Magistrate of Nalanda, said, “This year we are expecting more than 25 Lakhs people in the fair.Nice weather these days compound the festive spirits of the people.we have tourists visiting from across the country, even we get tourists from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal also.”
The Hindu solar calendar has 13th month every third year which is called Malmasa. And therefore, Malmas Fair is commenced in that year. According to Hindu belief, all the 33 Crore gods and goddess reside at Rajgir during the Malmas period. Many Sadhus and saints from across the country gather here and take a bath in the kunds during the fair.
There are many stories relating to Malmas Fair and Rajgir. The small hilly town was the capital of Magadha in 6th century BC. Rajgir has been the birth place of many religious activities. This place has been largely associated with Mahatma Buddha and Buddhism. The teachings of Buddha were written here and it was the venue of first Buddhist Council. Buddha not only spent a lot of time but also delivered sermons at Rajgir for long time. Today, Rajgir is known as one of the important places of Buddhism houses lots of Hindu and Jain temples.
For commercial activities during the fair at Rajgir accrue crores of rupees to the state government and local bodies, proves how important and lucrative the business has been for them. The auction of the land for commencing the fair states it popularity. During the past two fairs, the total space providing to different companies to accommodate their stalls were auctioned at sixty lakhs and one crore rupees respectively , which has now been increased to 1.5 Cr this year. The fair is organised for one month, but due to public demand, it has to be extended for 10 more days. Apart from circus and theatre, all the state government departments come to project their schemes and programmes. All major national and multinational companies participate in this fair to reach the rural masses. Most of the tourists, those who visit Malmas Fair, belong to the nearby rural areas; the fair gives a good opportunity to marketing companies to project their programmes and schemes. They mark their presence in front of the huge gatherings.
The fair generates opportunity to create brand visibility and consumer enquiries. It provides a great platform to connect with rural consumers. At one point of time companies can reach to a large number of audiences. The fair provides a great platform to the companies for showcasing their brands. “The companies, who want to make their presence in the rural market, should come to Malmas Fair, which gives them a good platform to market their products, because, the fair registers a huge gathering. The tourists visit the fair and also experience and buy the products, available in the stalls”, said Agarwal.
The national and multinational companies are participating in Malmas Fair, mainly mobile companies and consumer goods companies show their interest in participating in the fair. FMCG companies get a great opportunity in the fair, if they market their products in right way, they can get success. Earlier this fair was organised on a smaller scale, but now the government of Bihar has decided to promote it through organising cultural programmes in every weekend. These kinds of programmes will push the local arts and culture in front of the tourists. Due to this practice, the tourists get free entertainment in the fair. Moreover, the authorities have decided to provide space to the local arts and crafts from across the state such as Madhubani arts and Jahanabad arts. People of many district can participate with their art and crafts in the fair.
In the past few years, the fair was known for poor sanitation, but the face of Malmas Fair has been changed, “People are coming in huge numbers, so in the same time we run a parallel master plan for sanitation, cleaning, availability of drinking water and lighting”, the district magistrate added. More than 500 police personnel are deployed in the fair to provide security to the tourists and CCTVs are installed in designated places.
The fair registers huge footfalls, everyday more than 70,000 people visit the fair, especially between 4 am to 2 pm. controlling the crowed without any mishap is a big challenge, controlling and facilitating them are the big challenges. Due to religious belief, most of the tourists make a dip into the kunds and want to stay for a long time. But the kunds have limited space and not more than 100 – 150 people can take a bath together. Similarly when people visit to World Peace Stupa through rope way, controlling and facilitating them is again a big challenge for the administration.
“Challenges are always everywhere, however, the administration is always ready to tackle them, we have appropriate resources to run things in order.. It is the duty of us to provide safety and security to the tourists. The fair comes to the priorities of the state government. The state government is committed to provide a good atmosphere to the tourists. The honorable chief minister himself has reviewed the arrangements”, Agarwal assured.
The tourists, those who come to Malmas Fair, they also visit to Nalanda and Pawapuri, these destinations are very close to Rajgir. They get a chance to see the ruins of the great ancient Nalanda University which was founded in 5th century. This is located just 15 km from Rajgir. Pawapuri, also known as Apapuri (Sinless City), it is a great pilgrimage centre of Jainism. The great Mahavir Tirthankar had delivered his last sermons here. A tourist can visit the very beautiful and old temples of Jalmandir and Samosharan at this city. Pawapuri is just 35 km from Rajgir.
“If you have not visited Malmas Fair so far, you are certainly missing an important tourist destination, one of the largest fairs in terms of number of footfalls. I am inviting you to visit the fair once, you will get a warm experience which you did not get before”, Agarwal called to the tourists and marketers.
Located in the hilly town of Rajgir, Malmas Fair has lots of opportunities for marketers for branding activities. The consumer goods companies can raise their stalls in prominent areas of the fair, gifts like pen, key chain and jute bag distribution, display area branding and hoardings at main gates to promote their products can be good options for them.