Fairs & Festivals
Rajasthan is the land of colorful fairs and festivals. Numerous fairs and festivals of Rajasthan that dot the calendar in Rajasthan make it a happening place throughout the year. The people of Rajasthan celebrate every festival with tremendous amount of zeal and enthusiasm. In addition to the colorful festivals, there are also traditional fairs including camel fair, religious fairs in Rajasthan and fair that mark the changing season. These fairs of Rajasthan provide a perfect opportunity to take a glimpse of the local lifestyle and shop for handcrafted items in Rajasthan.
Major Fairs & Festivals of Rajasthan
The camel festival is organised by the Department of Tourism of the Rajasthan Government in January every year in Bikaner. The festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh fort. The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the directions of their trainers. Bridal bridles, bejeweled necks, jingling anklets and camel shadows, cast a spell on the audience. In the evenings, is held a traditional rendezvous of renowned artistes and folk performers of Rajasthan.
The fair is held every year in January-February in Nagaur, is a trading fair for cattle and camels and gives one an opportunity to catch up with rural life as owners from all over the state camp on the outskirts of the town while they buy and sell animals.The hides of the animals, cut into wonderful patterns, are particularly attractive.
This 18-day festival is celebrated to welcome the advent of spring and coincides with the festival of Gangaur in Udaipur. It is significant for the women of the state as it is time for them to dress in their best. The women gather to dress the images of Issar and Gangaur and then carry them in a ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. The procession ends up at Pichhola Lake where the images are transferred to special boats amidst singing and festivity. Cultural events are held at the end of the festivities and they include songs, dances and a display of fireworks.
Kaila Devi Fair
The fair is held in March or April in Kaila village in Karauli district and it holds an important place among the celebrated fairs of the state. The fortnight-long fair is held on the banks of the river Kalisil in the hills of Trikut about 2 kilometres from Kaila village. It houses the images of Mahalakshmi and Chamunda. Kaila Devi has been regarded as the guardian deity throughout the ages by the Khinchis, the Yadavas and the princes of Karauli. A small temple dedicated to Bhairon is situated in the courtyard and facing the shrine of the devi is the temple of Hanuman. Throughout the year, there is a steady flow of devotees.
Mahavir Ji Fair
This fair is held at Mahavir Ji between March and April to commemorate Shri Mahavir Swami, the 24th tirthankara (saint) of the Jains. The temple is located in an enclosure known as ‘katala’ where devotees come to pay homage.
The three-day festival is held at Mount Abu in June every year and is a feast of folk and classical music and window to the tribal life and culture of Rajasthan. The festival begins with the singing of a ballad which is followed by Gaiç Ghoomar and Dhap folk dances. Boat races and qawwalis are also organised.
Held during the monsoons in July Teej is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati and this time it is married women who pray for a happy and long married life. Though celebrations are held all over the state, it is particularly colourful in Jaipur where a procession winds its way for two days through the old City. It is the festival of swings which are decorated with flowers and hung from trees. Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of the advent of the monsoon. The Teej idol is covered with a canopy whereas the Gangaur idol is open.
The fair is held at Gogamedi in Ganganagar district in August in memory of a popular hero of the area known as Goga among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslims. The Kayam Khani Muslims claim to be descendants of his. Gogaji is popular as a snake god and almost every village in Rajasthan has a sacred place dedicated to him. Staunch followers of Gogaji believe that by invoking his name, a snake bite and other diseases can be cured. It is said that Gogaji went into samadhi at GogaMedi and thousands of devotees gather there to pay homage at his memorial every day during the Fair which lasts three days. The samadhi is a marble structure with two minarets fortified by a boundary wall. The idol of Gogaji is seated on a blue horse with a snake coiled around the neck.
Though Kaliteej is celebrated all over the state, the one in Bundi is different in the sense that it is held on different dates from the rest of the state. The festival starts with the procession of goddess Teej in a decorated palanquin from the imposing Naval Sagar and passes through the main bazaars. The procession comprises decorated elephants, camels, bands, performing artists and colourfully dressed people. Though the main function is held for only two days, the celebrations continue into Janamashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna.
The Ramdevra Fair is held in Ramdevra village in Jaisalmer in August or Septembet The village has got its name after Baba Ramdev, a Tanwar Rajput, who took samadhi in 1458 He had miraculous powers and legend goes that five peers from Mecca came to test his powers. After being convinced, they paid homage to him. The Hindus regard him as an incarnation of Lord Krishna. A large fair is held here which is attended by lakhs of devotees who come in large groups from various places. Bhajans and kirtans right through the night are organised.
Held in October in Jodhpur, this annual two-day event attempts to showcase the art and culture of the Jodhpur region. It is devoted mainly to singing and dancing. Originally known as the Maand festival, the folk dancers provide a glimpse of the days of yore, of battles and valiant heroes who still live on in their songs. Other attractions are camel tatoo show and polo. The venues are the impressive Umaid Bhavan Palace, Mandore and the Mehrangarh fort.
Dusshera is celebrated all over the country in different ways as also in Rajasthan. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. The tale of Rama and Sita and the battle fought between Lord Rama and Ravana are enacted on stage and it is called Ramlila. On the tenth day of the festival, huge effigies of the ten-headed Ravana and his brother Kumbakaran, stuffed with thousands of fire crackers, are set afire and the people then begin to rejoice.
Easily the most identifiable of all the fairs of the state, the Pushkar fair is held in November in Pushkar in Ajmer, where an eighth century temple of Brahma, draws the faithful devotees. The place has about 400 shrines and temples around the lake. Legend has it that Lord Brahma, in search of a place to hold his yagna(religious ritual), dropped the lotus from his hand and the three spots touched by the flower were turned into lakes. These are today known as the Jyeshtha Pushkar, Madhyam Pushkar and Kanishtha Pushkar. Pilgrims bathe at the ghats and pray at the temple. Traders strike deals at the world’s largest camel fair, although horses are also sold. People gather together to camp in the desert and entertain each other with songs and dances and cook meals over camp fires. The camel, horse and donkey races are also popular and draw huge attendance. Rajasthan Tourism puts up a tourist village.
This three-day fair is held at Jhalrapatan near Jhalawar either in November or December next to the banks of the Chandrabhaga river which is considered holy by the people living in this part of the state. On the full moon night of Kartik Purnima, thousands of pilgrims take a dip in the river. There is also a big cattle fair in which cows, horses, buffaloes, camels and bullocks are brought for sale.
Bikaner is the venue for this fair which lasts 10 days and the place is the sacred site where Kapil Muni is supposed to have meditated. The place has a lake with 52 ghats shaded by banyan trees. Devotees take a dip in the lake and pray in the temples. Aarti is performed twice a day and bhog is offered. People float lighted lamps in the sacred lake as part of the rituals. A cattle fair is also held where buffaloes, camels, horses and cattle are sold. Certificates and prizes are given away to the best breeders at the fair.
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