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.
What, Where, When
Beginning from January, heres a quick dekko at what to head
for and when.
Camel Festival - Bikaner (January):
It is Camels-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
Kite Festival - Jodhpur (14
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):
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.
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
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
Another festival welcoming Spring endemic to Udaipur
celebrated pompously with songs, dances, processions, devotional music and
Summer Festival - Mt. Abu
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.
Urs Ajmer Sharif - Ajmer (According to
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 womens
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 Asias 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 aboves 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.