Fair & Festivals
The Camel Festival is organized by the Department of Tourism of the Rajasthan Government in January every year in Bikaner. The festival begins with a colorful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. Held is a tug-of-war contest, best breed competition, camel dance and acrobatics among other things. The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the directions of their trainers. Bridal bridles, be jeweled 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.
Dungarpur is the spot for this fair held at the time of Shivratri in January - February. It is a tribal fair held on the banks of the Mahi and Som rivers in the forested area around the border of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Bhil tribals come to the place to worship Lord Shiva. The fair resounds to the gaiety of songs, folk dances, magic shows, animal shows and acrobatic feats.
The fair 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 a 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 festival is also held in January- February in Jaisalmer. For three days, the otherwise barren land of Jaisalmer comes to life and is clustered with hordes of colorfully dressed people. Some chosen moments of the past and affluent culture are on display backed by high pitched music and folk dances. The turban tying competition and Mr. Desert contest as also the camel races, add to the excitement of the celebrations.
The festival is held on the eve of Holi in Jaipur and has several interesting attractions like elephant polo. The festival begins with a procession of elephants, camels, horses and folk dancers. The elephants are decorated to the full with bright colours, saddle cloth and heavy jewellery. Female elephant are made to wear anklets and a prize is given for the most well-decorated elephant. Playing Holi on elephant back is one of the major attractions.
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.
The fair is held at Gogamedi in Ganganagar district in August in memory of a popular hero of the area known as Goga Veer among the Hindus and Jahar Peer among the Muslums. The Kayam Khani Muslums 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 Goga Medi and thousands of devotees garther 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 September. 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 organized.
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 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 stae and it is called Ramlila. On the tenth day of the festival, huge effigies of the tenheaded 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. 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 hats and pray at the temple. Traders strike deals at the word's largest camel fair, although horses are also sold. People gather together to camp in 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.
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.
Geld all over Rajasthan, it is the most important fair of the state and is observed with fervour and devotion. The idols of Issar and gangaur, manifestations of Shiva and Parvati, are worshipped by women, particularly by those who are unmarred and pray for a consort. Women take out procession through the streets carrying images of the divine couple. The festival is especially colorful in Jaipur, Udaipur and Mandawa.
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. Thefortnight 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 of the Jain. The temple is located in an enclosure known as Katala" where devotees come to pay homage.
Summer Festival Mt.Abu (June)
Organized in the only hill station of Rajasthan, this is the coldest place at this time of the year. Folk dances and a general atmosphere of gaiety prevails in this tiny hill resort and the tourist has ample time to relax and enjoy himself.
Held during the monsoons, July-August 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 procesion winds its way for 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.
Kite Festival (held on 14th Jan of every year)
A festival with a difference - as kites take to the sky all over Rajasthan. In the evening, kites with lights in them and fireworks brighten the skies above. The main celebrations are in Jaipur and Jodhpur. If you like kite flying, you should be here.
Baneshwar Fair, Baneshwar (Jan-Feb.)
A religious festival with simple and traditional rituals. This fair is the centre of attraction of a large number of tribal from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat who join their brethren from Rajasthan in offering prayers to Lord Shiva.
Urs Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer (According to Lunar Calendar)
Held in the memory of the revered Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, it is an occasion for thousands of believers to congregate at the shrine and offer their prayers. All of Ajmer seems to take on a festive air and several programmes are organized to mark the festivals.
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 is-sar 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.