North India  |  Festival of Rajasthan

Festival of Rajasthan

Festival of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is the 'Land of Celebration'. The fairy-tale forts and palaces across its golden sands conjure up endless fascinating images of chivalrous kings, beautiful princesses and lavish darbars. The mark of royalty is all-pervasive in this desert land and is seen not only on the vivid frescoes and murals of the palaces but also in the pomp and pageantry of the brightly dressed people.

 

Although vast areas of Rajasthan are tones of beige and brown, its people dress up most colorfully, making up for the lack of a colorful landscape. Not only the multi-hued costumes of the people, but also the richly carved mansions, gaily decorated livestock and the bustling bazars selling fabulous wares all splashes of colour. In a land where social customs are still governed by age-old traditions, it is only natural to see women is swirling skirts who spontaneously pull the veil or ghunghat over their faces at the sight of a man. The village women adorn themselves with heavy silver jewellery around the ankles, waist, neck and the wrist or dangling from the ears, nose and hair.

Many of these ethnic ornaments have now become a craze among the urban elite, both at home and abroad. The rich heritage of Rajasthan manifests itself in the latticed havelis, ornate palaces and intricately carved temples, some of them dating back to the 7th century. The true-to-life images and architectural complexity of the buildings speak volumes about the skill and dexterity of the artisans. The spirit of romance, valour and faith is quintessential to Rajasthan and is delicately yet inseparably blended in its art, culture and hauntingly addictive music and dance.

Rajasthan's tradition can be captured at its festive best at the fairs and festivals, which are dazzlingly theatrical and lively. In fact, anytime of the year is festival time in Rajasthan. The festivities are marked by folk dances and music played on a variety of locally made instruments. All the fairs and festivals are widely attended by people from all walks of life.

A Celebration of Fairs and Festivals

 

Festival Tours in India
Festivals hold an unusual lure for the Rajasthanis, and they find any number of reasons to celebrate. While some of these are traditional festivals, there are also a large number that have been recently introduced by the tourism department to showcase the heritage of a region. Chances are, when travelling in the state, you will come across any number of local fairs and festivities in which you can participate. However, some of the larger and more important celebrations are listed below. (This list does not include those festivals that are common to all parts of the country such as Holi, Diwali and Dussehra.)

BANESHWAR FAIR

(Baneshwar Dungarpur,Jan.-Feb.) A religious festival with simple & traditional rituals. Quaint rhythms conjure up the tribal cultural identity of the Bhils of Rajasthan, Gujarat & M.P. Baneshwar means the master of the delta and this name was given to the Shiva linga. The Beneshwar fair is held at a small delta formed by the river Som & Mahi & prayers are offered toLord Shiva locally named as Baneshwar. The fair resounds with the gaeity of traditional folk songs, folk dances, Raslila, animal show, magic shows acrobatic feats. Adding to the excitement are me joy ride." on merygo rounds & swings.

Brij Festival

(Bharatpur, March) Held on the eve of Holi in honour of Lord Krishna, this festival is marked by verve & east Villagers, in gay, multitude attire can be seen singing and performing the Raslila dance the immortal love story of Radha & Krishna.

Camel Festival

(Bikaner, January) A unique celebration highlighting camel & cultural heritage of northern Rajasthan. The camel festival begins with a colorful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh fort, the festivity advances to the open sand spreads of the grounds, followed by the best breed competition, the tug of war contest, camel dances & acrobatics. The camels dance gracefully to the slightest direction of their Buy Trainers their bejeweled necks, jingling anklets cast a magical spell. Glorious Gorbandh dance, local folk performs and dazzling fireworks offer a different tenor & tempo altogether.

Chaksu Fair

A gathering of people from Jaipur's rural pockets collects here in almost all forms of transport- laden into tractor trolleys and jeeps - at what must be one of the most colorful events on the Rajasthani fair calendar.

Desert Fair

(Jaisalmer, Jan.-Feb.) A unique three day show on the sands, when the desert blooms with the riotous colour of Rajasthan 's desert heritage. The traditional dances (famous Gair & Fire dances) backed by high pitched music take the folk dances and the audience on an Euphoric trip. The turban tying competition & Mr. Desert contest coupled with camel race & acrobatics add a touch of excitement to the celebrations. One can enjoy the pleasure of a camel ride to the sand dances and view musicians & dancers performing.

Elephant Festival

(Jaipur, March) A magnificent spectactle, it unveils the majesty and grandeur of elephants celebrated around Holi. The Mahavats or owners proudly decorate their elephants with bright colours, jhool., (saddle cloth) and heavy jewellary. A royal procession of decorated elephants, a match of elephant polo, an elephant race and playing Holi on elephants are main events.

 

Gangaur Fair

Gangaur Fair

(Jaipur, MarchApril) A festival devoted to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Ishar & Gangaur are the divine male and female ho embody marital love. Dedicated to goddess Gauri (Parvati), the festival commences on Holi/ Young girls pray for ;rooms of their choice while married women seek a long life for their husbands. rhe ladies decorate their hands and feet )y drawing designs with Mehendi (Myrtle Jaste). On the evening of the 7th day after -ioli, unmarried girls go around singing songs of ghudlia (earthern pots with numerous holes all around with a lamp lit aside) carrying the pots on their hands. )n their way they collect small presents ,f cash, sweets, jaggery, ghee, oil etc. The women do these while chanting hymns to the Goddess. Festivities continue for 18 days culminating with the arrival of Lord Shiva to escort his bride home. A grand process Ion with the ideal of Gauri in beautifully decorated gold and silver a palanquin caparisoned elephants, camels, horses, dances, drummers & joyous children, goes through the city streets. In Jaipur procession forms at the Palace Gate known as T ripolia and moves on the city streets on to Talkatora. A vast gathering of jaipurites & villagers from nearby areas witness the procession. A sweet dish called Ghewar characteristic of the Gangaur festival is distributed among friends & relatives. In Jodhpur early in the morning thousands of maidens, clad in their best attire, singing melodious songs, bring water and durba grass in silver or brass pots to a place known as Girdikot. In Udaipur the images of Isar & Gauri are taken in a procession to the Pichola lake there after in a boat for an hour they go around the lake and the ceremony comes to an end with a display of fireworks on the banks. The Girasia tribe eligible boys & girls in Sirohi, Mount Abu region during Gangaur festival select their life partners & elope with them. This form of marriage has the sanction of the community.

Kolayat Fair

The sacred site where Kapil Muni is supposed to have meditated, a fair is held here on the banks of its lakes, and the air bristles with excitement. Kolayat can be visited from Bikaner.

Marwar Festival

(Udaipur, March-April) Coinciding with the festival of Gangaur the Mewar festival is celebrated to welcome the advent of spring. Once the religions part of the festival is over it is time for potrayal of Rajasthani culture through songs, dances and other programmes. The festival culminates with an impressive fire works display.

CNagaur Fair

(Nagaur. Jan.-Feb.) Essentially an animal fair is one of the largest in the colmtry. The fair is renowned for the trading in cows, bullocks, camels & horses Mirchi Bazar is the main attraction and wooden items, iron craft & leather accessories are available in plenty during the fair. As the Sun goes down, a joyous atmosphere is created by the folk musicians whose voices echo far & wide across the tranquil desert sand. Nagaur is well connected to the mal or tourist centers of Rajasthan. The nearest airport is Jodhpur (135 Km.).

Navratri

The nine days preceding Dussehra are marked by fasting, and on ritual meal a day. In the case of the martial Rajputs, a goat is sacrificed as food for consecration, and the worship of their weapons is obligatory. Usually in September-October, it is a private celebration with no public fanfare.

Pushkar Fair

(Pushkar-Ajmer, November) Excitement, gaiety and a keen sense of competition fill the air as the long journey to Pushkar begins. The only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma (the creator) is located at Pushkar. The Pushkar lake is surrounded by 52 flights of steps called ghats. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu appeared at the Varah ghat in the form of a boar. Brahma took a bath here and performed yagna at the Brahma Ghat accompanied by Vishnu & Mahadev. The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi (Father of the Nation) were immersed at the Gandhi ghat. Pushkar is among the five principal places of Hindu pilgrimage. People consider the water of the Pushkar lake to be very sacred and the ritual of taking dips in the holy water is believed to bestow salvation. It is customary to float lighted eastern lamps ed on pattals (plates made of leaves) on the waters of lake. This creales a spectacular view when the sacred lake takes on a mystical tint sprankled with twinkling spots of light. In conjunction with he religious fair, a cattle fair is also organised. The ancient town of Pushkar is transformed into a spectacular fair ground. The fair grounds reverberate with festivity and woman folk shop for bangles, clothes, utensils, sundry household items & leather goods. The highlight of the Pushkar fair is the trading in camels. The camel, horse & donkey races are events that draw huge attendance. Body tatooing is yet another favourite activity. Come dusk, and the rich sBuy Trains of haunting music are carried across the desert sands as the merrymaking continues deep into the night.

Sitla Mata Fair

A large fair is held to propitiate the goddess of war whose wrath can be the terrible scrouge of smallpox unless appeased by her followers. Consecrated food on this day consists of stale food left out the previous night. The fair is held in and around the temple dedicated to the goddess in Amber, Jaipur.

Summer Festival

(Mt. Abu, June) The steep rocks, tranqillake, mango grooves, bauhinia trees & thickets of wild berries cover this hilly mount. The three day festival is a feast of folk & classical music and a window to the tribal life & culture of Rajasthan. Cail; Choomar & Dhap folk dances enthrall the spectators. Sporting events such as the boat race on the Nakki lake add variety to the festival. Udaipur (185 Kms.) is the nearest airport and Abu Road (29 Kms.) Is the nearest Railway station and, there is a good network of bus services connecting Mount Abu to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur & Ahmedabad.

Teej

(Jaipur, July-August) The festival celebrating the reunion of Shiva & Parvati, is celebrated at the onset of the onsoon. Teej is the festival of swings. Young girls & women dressed in green clothes sing songs & swing in celebrating the advent of the mansoon. An elaborate procession is taken out in Jaipur for two consecutive days with ornately dressed elephants, horses & camels, bands, performing artists & coluorfully dressed people Goddess Parvati is invoked to bless her worshippers with conjugal harmony & bliss.

Urs Ajmer Sharif

(Ajmer) The urs, acommomerative celebration is held in the solemn memory of Khwaja Muin-nddin Chisti, a prighly respected sufi saint fondly revered as the benefactor of the poor, popularly known as Gareeb Nawaz. The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer, is the place where the Saints mortal remains lie burried and is the site of the largest Muslim Fair in India. Chadar; Ghilaph & Neema which are votive offerings for the tomb are offered by several hundred thousand devotees. Mehfils & Qawwalis are held and mass prayer calls for the eternal peace of the mankind. An interesting ritual is the looting of Kheer (Milk Pudding) which is cooked in two large cauldrons called Degs and distributed to the devotees as tabarruk (blessed food).