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Imam chacha and his ‘filmy’ horses major attraction at Sonepur fair

Imam, who is involved in the trade for about 45 years, said this year he had sold 50 horse and mares at the annual fair that kicked off early this month.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 11:45 IST
Rajesh Kumar Thakur
Rajesh Kumar Thakur
Hindustan Times, Sonepur
Sonepur fair,Sonepur cattle fair,Bihar fair
Mohammad Imam with his kin and herd of horses at the Sonepur fair on Thursday. His horses have shot for several movies in the past. (Parwaz Khan /HT PHOTO)

Mohammad Imam,71, has inherited stud-farming in legacy. A regular at the Asia’s biggest livestock fair at Sonepur in Bihar’s Saran district, Imam has done everything to keep the family business of four generations flourish.

“This year, I am at the cattle fair again with 11 family members, including a cousin who is a mechanical engineer. We have brought 105 horses, mares and 80 foals for sale from our farm at Sheikhpura village north Bihar’s Siwan district,” said Imam, who can barely write his name.

Imam, who is involved in the trade for about 45 years, said this year he had sold 50 horse and mares till Wednesday at the annual fair that kicked off early this month.

“Keeping horses and training them is a costly affair. They are nurtured like children as well as bred for beauty, elegance and spirited nature,” he said.

Read more: Traders keep out of Sonepur cattle fair

Imam’s family was awarded in 1990 by then Bihar governor Mohammad Yunus Saleem for maintaining the legacy of horse-keeping.

“In 2016, I had brought 55 horses of different breeds to the fair and increased their number to 65 in 2017. This year, the business is somewhat better than in the previous years,” he said, adding that Badal, a two-year-old horse of Marwar breed from Rajasthan and 15-month-old Rani of Kathiawari breed were drawing huge crowd.

“Badal can dance to the tune of music and has featured in many Bhojpuri films, including recently released Veer-Bahubali,” said Mohammad Nausher, one of the three sons of Imam, said.

“Badal is priced at Rs 11 lakh while Rani carries the tag of Rs 15 lakh. Another horse, 4-year-old Raja, is priced at Rs 9 lakh,” he said.

“The price depends on speed, breed, colour and nature a horse. A white horse fetches good price because of its demand in race, films and many auspicious occasions,” he said.

Apart from Nausher, other family members are also helping Imam. Mohammad Feroz, 35, said he had come from Gujarat, where he works in a private firm, on leave to help his uncle in the family business. Imam’s cousin Mohammad Sudan Khan, who has just completed his is mechanical engineering, is also lending a helping hand.

“Normally, we keep only five horses at our farm in the village. The other horses are purchased form Punjab, Rajashthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur, trained and then taken to different fairs, including the Sonepur event,” Imam said. “The horses of Arabian breed have been brought from Mumbai and Punjab,” he said.

A family member, assisting Imam, said they were spending Rs 200 on fodder and other needs of each horse at the fair.

“The horses, which remain unsold at Sonepur, are taken other livestock fairs, including Etawah cattle fair in UP, Nanded-Malegaon and Sarangkheda cattle fairs in Maharashtra. Some of the are also supplied to Bollywood filmmakers in Mumbai,” he said.

The month-long cattle fair is held annually, beginning on Kartik Poornima, at Sonepur, about 30 km from Patna, on 500 acres of land near the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak rivers.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 11:45 IST