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Rajasthan Festivals

Rustic Rajasthan
The retro facade of this rustic land is best noted during Festivals. And the good news is, the land sees one Festival or the other, at one place or another, round about the whole year. Every harvest, every new season, becomes a celebration for a people who say it all with colors, music, dance and drama. That is to say that Rajasthani art, culture, folk tradition is best show-cased during these rustic festivities.
Rajasthan Festival
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What, Where, When
Beginning from January, here’s a quick dekko at what to head for and when.

Camel Festival - Bikaner (January): It is Camel’s-Day-Out and the Ship of the Desert gracefully steals the show with races, and various performances. Embellished with jewels and colorful clothes, they remind you of Rajasthani brides (if you have already seen one).

Kite Festival - Jodhpur (14 January): The International kite festival of Jodhpur, held at Polo Grounds, last for three-days, and kite fliers from across the nation and abroad frolic here to participate. It begins with the Air Force helicopters releasing kites from the sky, and hundreds of schoolchildren releasing balloons. Kites that look like wasps, exquisite stained glass windows, graceful mythical birds soar in the sky. Fighter Kite Competition and Display Flying competitions add tango to the occasion.

Baneshwar Fair - Baneshwar (Jan-Feb.): A religious festival that attracts phenomenal population of tribals from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat who join their brethren from Rajasthan in offering prayers to Lord Shiva.

Nagaur Fair - Nagaur (late January and early February): Situated half way between Bikaner and Jodhpur, Nagaur awakens with swarms of cattle (horses and camels) and colorfully turbaned owners. A plethora of games, tug-of-war contests, camel races and strains of ballads fill the day, as buyers bargain for the best animal and walk away.

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Desert Festival - Jaisalmer (Full Moon of February): The three-day Desert Festival is one of the most famous with tourists. It springs the Thar to life with a myriad of Rajasthani dances - Ghoomer, Gangaur, Gair Dhap, Moria, Chari and Tehratal. The famous Gair dancers and the Fire dances are the special highlights of the festival. Folk performers like musicians, ballad singers, snake charmers, and puppeteers all exhibit their traditional skills. There are exciting camel dances, camel acrobatics, camel races, and camel polo, competitions for the best decorated camel, tug-of-war between musclemen, a turban tying competition and a Mr. Desert contest. The culmination is a sound and light spectacle on a moonlit night amidst sand dunes.

Elephant Festival - Jaipur (March): Holi is teamed up with another celebration and this one has the Elephants claiming centerstage. The festival begins with a procession of elephants, camels and horses followed by folk dancers at their entertaining best.

Gangaur - All over Rajasthan (Mar-April): is basically celebrated by the Rajasthani womenfolk. The rituals span some 18 days and involves fasting and the likes, to get a good husband (unmarried women) or for the well-being of their husbands (married women). The bottomline is therefore celebration of conjugal bliss. In fact, ‘Gan’ is Lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ is his wife Parvati. This is when women get their hands decorated with henna (traditional herbal, temporary tattoo), prepare and distribute the scrumptious dessert “ghewar”, bejewel themselves most covetously in traditional attires and jewelery The statue of the goddess in an elaborate palanquin led by bejeweled elephants, camels and horses, fleet of antique palanquins, traditional dancers, musicians, bandsmen – is a spectacle best captured in film.

Mewar Festival - Udaipur (March-April): Another festival welcoming Spring endemic to Udaipur celebrated pompously with songs, dances, processions, devotional music and firework displays.

Summer Festival - Mt. Abu (June): Organized in the only hill station of Rajasthan, the 3-day Summer festival turns Mount Abu into a medley of tourists, pilgrims, folk performances, boat races at the Nakki lake, musical events like Sham-e-Qawwali, fireworks and what not.

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Urs Ajmer Sharif - Ajmer (According to Lunar Calendar): Dedicated to saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the Urs festival in Ajmer is one of the biggest Muslim fairs in India. The nights come alive with quwwalli performances by artists from across the nation. The whole town is decorated with buntings and lights.

Teej - All over Rajasthan (August): Teej, another women’s Festival celebrated mainly in Jaipur, has the branches of bulky trees swaying with swings as brightly dressed women celebrate the advent of the monsoons. Celebrated on the third day of the bright lunar half of the month of Shravan (August) it is, like Gangaur, dedicated to the goddess Parvati. Best for those ‘Kodak moments’ of beautiful Rajasthani women in all their jeweled finery.

Marwar Festival - Jodhpur (October): A Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan endeavor, the Marwar Festival was originally known as the Maand Festival. Maand is a classical style of folk music centered on the romantic life style of Rajasthan's rulers, and Maand Raag recreates the old world charm and graceful dances of the desert. Held for two days during the full moon, Sharad Purnima, in October, folk artists bring to life the inspiring mythologies, folk stories, tales and legends of battles, war victories and valor.

Pushkar Camel Fair - Pushkar (October end-November beginning): Auction of about 25000 camels Asia’s largest cattle Fair. Tribals, pilgrims (Pushkar is a Hindu pilgrimage destination), tourists congregate to witness the rustic extravaganza.

Your trip to this Desert Capital is sure to coincide with one of these and all the listed above’s are ‘do-not-miss’ attractions of Rajasthan. What can be a better peek into any culture than to watch the people in their gay abandon doing things they love most.

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