Rajasthan is known to be the driest and the most arid state of India but is also one of the most colourful and exuberant places on earth. Referred to as the Desert Jewel of India, Rajasthan, shimmers with even more vibrancy during the time of its colourful fairs and festivals. There is a celebration for every religious occasion, every change of season and every harvest, all invariably a reflection of the genius of their arts and crafts and their ascetic refinement. Celebrations occur almost round the year and are a splendid opportunity for tourists to gain an insight into the life of the Rajasthan during their travel. Some of the better known fairs and festivals of Rajasthan starting from the beginning of January till the end of March are:
Bikaner Camel Festival
Dedicated to the indispensable ship of the desert, the Bikaner festival starts off with a magnificent procession of bedecked camels, from 8th to 9th January, 2012. It is a colourful spectacle of the beautifully decorated camels that fascinates the onlookers with their charm and grace against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. The desert town of Bikaner is located in the Northern part of Rajasthan. This festival starts off with a magnificent procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort (1588-1593) in the town. It is a colourful spectacle of beautifully decorated camels that fascinates the onlookers with their charm and grace. The festivity advances to the open sand-spreads of the Polo Grounds, followed by camel races, camel milking, fur cutting design, the best breed competition, camel acrobatics, camel bands and so on.
The Nagaur Festival of Rajasthan will be held from 30th January to 2nd Ferbruary, 2012, in the quaint Rajput town of Nagaur. The Nagaur festival is essentially a cattle fair and every year close to 75,000 camels, bullocks and horses are traded. In fact the sheer volume of trading is astonishing to the first time visitors.The fair caters to the entire farming belt of Northern India and a bid on prized animal can go up to a lakh rupees. In many cases, villagers pool in resources to raise the perfect siring bull and share the profits equally. The fair is also a rare opportunity for tourists to catch a glimpse of rural Rajasthan , as yet uncorrupted by commercial interests. The rustic charm of the setting can be enjoyed in the relative comfort at the tourist village just across the road from the fair ground.
The name Baneshwar is derived from the revered Shiva Linga which is kept in the Mahadev temple in Dungarpur. "Baneshwar" means the 'master of the delta'. The Baneshwar Festival, this, is scheduled to take place from 3rd to 7th February, 2012. This is a religious festival with simple and traditional rituals. On this occasion tribal from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat join their brethren from Rajasthan to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. The Baneshwar fair is predominantly a tribal fair with more than half of the congregation consisting of the Bhils tribe. The Bhils attending Baneshwar Fair sing traditional folk songs in high pitched voices sitting around a bonfire every night. Groups of villagers are also invited to participate in the programme. The fair resounds with the gaiety of songs, folk dances, magic shows, animal shows and acrobatic feats. Adding to the excitement are the joy rides on merry-go-rounds and swings.
Once a year in winters and on 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 Desert Festival is an annual event organized in the beautiful city, Jaisalmer and will be held from 5th to 7th February, 2012. The festival represents the rich and colourful Rajasthani folk culture and concludes on the day of Poornima.
During these three days, the desert folks sing and dance eloquently to the triumphs and the tragedies of the land. It is also a musical extravaganza where musicians and the renowned artists participate. Along with this, a number of competitions are held in the festival like the turban tying competition, longest moustaches competition, etc. Even the camels take part in a number of events, including camel polo and camel dance. Not only the Jaisalmer fort but the whole Jaisalmer city brims with excitement during the Desert Festival.
The Elephant Festival which will be held on 7th March, 2012, is a unique event of the elephants organized on the eve of Holi in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. The festival begins with a procession with rows upon rows of elephants groomed to perfection, decked in gold and embroidered velvets, catwalk before an enthralled audience. They are followed by camels, horses and Rajasthani folk dancers. The atmosphere is made lively with the sound of the bankiya or the trumpet. Held at the Jaipur Chaugan Stadium or the Polo ground, the festival is enjoyed by hundreds of tourists from India as well as from abroad. Most of the participants in the Elephant Festival in Jaipur are the female elephants. The elephants are painted on foreheads, trunks, foreheads and feet with floral motifs and adorned with ornaments and jewelry from tusk to tail. There are prizes for the Best Groomed elephant as well. The elephants participate in number of events like races, The game of polo forms the highlight of the festival. Dressed in saffron and red turbans, the teams try to score goals with long sticks and a plastic football.
Gangaur Fair from 25th to 26th March, 2012, is a largely female-centric festival and most of the festivities, the pujas, are conducted by women. It is celebrated in honour of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. Young girls adorned in their best clothes pray for a spouse of their choice. The married ladies pray for the welfare of their husbands. This spring festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal all over Rajasthan. The celebrations at Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nathdwara and Jaisalmer are full of pomp and are a must-see. The festivities begin almost a fortnight before the actual day. Girls worship the goddess throughout the preceding fortnight. Colorful images of Gauri are taken out in procession accompanied by the town band. Another unique thing about this festival is that on this occasion, tribal men and women have an opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they select partners and marry by eloping.
visit : www.theholidayindia.com