|Fair and Festivals in Rajasthan
Rajasthan has one of the most colorful and vibrant deserts in the world. The great Thar Desert has much to offer through a plethora of celebrations. Festivals and fairs, music and dance, are a part of life in the State as well as in the desert. The year long festive fervour and cattle marts turn into delightful fairs. Festivals hold an unusual lure for the Rajasthanis and they have any number of reasons to celebrate. Pageantry is in the form of weddings or rituals, or to promote trade. Each region has their own form of folk entertainment, traditions, dialects adding to the Indian diversity. Some of the fairs are: Pushkar Fair, Desert festival, Elephant Festival and Camel festival. Having attained international repute, they are not to be missed.
The Pushkar Cattle Fair is one of the largest in India and the only one of its kind in the entire world. During the fair, Lakhs of people from rural India flock to Pushkar, along with camel and cattle for several days of livestock trading, horse dealing, pilgrimage and religious festival.
This small town, becomes a cultural phenomenon when colourfully dressed devotees, musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, traders, comedians, “sadhus” and tourists reach here during Pushkar fair. According to Hindu chronology, it takes place in the month of Kartika (October or November) beginning on “ashtmi” 8th day of Lunar Calendar and continues till full moon (“Poornima”). The camel and cattle trading is at its peak during the first half of festival period. During the later half, religious activities dominate the scenario. Devotees take dips in the holy “Sarovar” lake, as the sacred water is known to bestow salvation.
This small town is transformed into a spectacular fair ground, as rows of make shift stalls display an entire range of objects of art to daily utility stuff. Decoration items for cattle, camel and women, everything is sold together. Small handicraft items are the best bargain for buying souvenirs. The camel and horse races have crowds to cheer. Camel judging competitions are quite popular with animal lovers. Each evening brings different folk dances and music of Rajasthan, performers delivering live shows to the roaring and applauding crowds. Pushkar fair has its own magic and it’s a lifetime experience for travellers. It has featured in numbers of travel shows, films and magazines. According to the Lonely Planet: “It’s truly a feast for the eyes. If you are any where within striking distance at the time, it’s an event not to be missed.”
This annual function at Bundi is celebrated in the month of November. The city virtually comes alive to festivities with several cultural performances by well-known artists. Sir Rudyard Kipling’s destination Bundi in Rajasthan is the first destination, in the Hadoti region (named after the Hada kings) comprising of Bundi, Jhalawar, Kota and Baran that is accessible from Jaipur by road. Set in a narrow encircling gorge, the palaces and fortress of Bundi have a fairy tale like quality about them. Few other places in India have such a picturesque location. Isolated and independent, the entire township appears like a miniature painting, frozen in time. The ethereal beauty and grandeur of Bundi architecture is vividly brought out in the “Palaces of India”. “The rulers who built these palaces must have had terrific egos, a great sense of style and humour.” The little town once famous for its Baories (reservoirs) and miniature paintings attract the traveller and from the highway it seemed as if the city itself was a miniature painting frozen in time.
The Elephant Festival is an inimitable event held annually in Jaipur. Groomed flawlessly, rows of elephants do a catwalk before an enthralled audience liked the best fashion models to make this festival an amazing one. The elephants move with poise in the pageant and finally participate in the spring festival of Holi. It is festival time with elephants, typically celebrated one day before Holi, the Indian festival of colors. Staged at Chaugan Stadium, Jaipur, elephants put up a variety of programs and the arena is brought alive with musicians and dancers. The crowd, which includes sizable presences of foreign and Indian tourist, electrifies the atmosphere. The festival starts with an impressive procession of the majestic animals lovingly painted and tastefully attired with glittering ornaments and embroidered velvets. A ceremonial procession is recreated with caparisoned elephants, lancers on horses, chariots, camels, cannons and palanquins.
A lively and colorful event, the Camel Festival is organized by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, in Bikaner every year. January is just the right month for a desert spree, and Bikaner just the right place to see the ships of the desert. In the camel country Bikaner, these desert leviathans pull heavy cartloads, transport grain and even work at the wells. 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 dance, acrobatics, etc.
From royal splendour to riotous egalitarianism, 14 January is celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti – heralding the transition of the sun into the Northern hemisphere. In Jaipur kites virtually blot out the sky. Everyone joins in this riotous celebration and shouts of “Woh Kata Hai!” reverberate from rooftops to the accompaniment of drums as adversary’s kites string is cut. And everyone’s an adversary! Any kite in the sky is fair game!
The Brij Festival takes place a few days before Holi, (the festival of colours) in the month of March. Held in honour of Lord Krishna, this festival is marked by verve and zest. Villagers, in gay, multihued attire, can be seen singing and performing the Raslila dance (dance depicting the immortal love-story of Radha and Krishna).
Bikaner is connected by rail and road with all the major cities. The nearest airport is at Jodhpur (243 km).
Once a year in winter and in the middle of the continually rising and falling stark yellow sands of the great Thar Desert, the empty sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the brilliant colour, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. The festival is organized by the Department of Tourism around January-February. The very rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture is on show here for three days. Rajasthani men and tall beautiful women dressed in their bright costumes dance and sing lingering ballads of valour, romance and tragedy. Traditional musicians attempt to outdo each other in their musical superiority.
Holi is a festival of colour and is celebrated all over India. It is also celebrated by Indians residing out of India. This festival comes on the full moon day of “phagun” – a Hindu month. This festival brings new hope for all the people as it marks the end of chilled winter days and the beginning of the summer. People forget their enmity and throw away their worries. Every nook and corner presents a colourful sight. Everywhere, people – young or old are drenched with different colours and water. There are balloons of coloured water bursting and long ‘pichkaris’ squirting coloured water. People in small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colours on each other.
One of the big festivals celebrated in most parts of India is Dussehra. The festival is celebrated with zest and festivities as it also marks the beginning of the winter season after the long, unbearable, hot summer. Dussehra marks the victory of Ram over the demon king Ravana, and the rescue of his wife Sita. In north India, gigantic effigies of the ten-headed Ravana and his brothers are set aflame amidst bursting of crackers. Fairs are usually held on this occasion with lots to eat, buy and enjoy.
Maharana Kumbha was patron of all that was best in Indian martial and fine arts, architecture and learning. Rajasthan tourism is an effort to promote Kumbhalgarh as a destination through arts started the Kumbhalgarh Classical Dance Festival. In line with the Maharana Kumbah’s dedication to promoting the arts, the festival brings together many of India’s finest performing artists with Classical Dance Recitals set against the backdrop of the glowing citadel.
The festival is divided into daytime and an evening segment. Daytime highlights include folk performances by the folk artists of Rajasthan and also various attractive competitions for the tourists. The tone of festival during the evening is more serious but the scintillating, bedazzling explosion of sound, light, colour and dance create a spectacle unseen at Kumbhalgarh since the heyday of Maharana Kumbha, a lover of the arts.
Source: Rajasthan Tourism