Fair & Festivals of Rajasthan
Camel Festival, Bikaner (January)
Camel festival is celebrated in Bikaner, an enchanting desert city and the only camel breeding farm in the country in the month of January. It is the most popular festival of Rajasthan. During this festival there are camel races and camel dances. Music and dance of Rajasthan also adds charm to this festival.
There are also several unusual folk performances, and you may also experience the rare fire dance in the night.
Desert Festival, Jaisalmer (January)
Desert Festival is one of the most popular and important festival of Rajasthan. This festival is celebrated on the Sam Sand Dunes, about 25 km from Jaisalmer, in the month of January. In this festival, the camels from all over Rajasthan gather here and present a beautiful show on the sands of the desert. This festival is celebrated for three days and during these days, the barren land of Jaislamer comes to life and is clustered with the colouful dressed people. The Desert Festival provides a cultural platform for the rich dance and music tradition of the state. Some of the major attractions of this festival are the Gair and fire dances, the turban–tying competition, camel races, tug-of-war and Mr. Desert contest, puppet shows, ballads, dances. As darkness falls, the Sam dunes come alive to the balladeers' soulful songs of the soldier-kings and their consorts as the puppeteers dramatise the epics. In the end, the prize is given to the best dressed camel.
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Nagaur Fair, Nagaur (February)
Nagaur Fair, the cattle fair is held annually in Nagaur in the month of February. This animal trading fair is the second largest fair in India and about 70,000 cattle are traded in this fair. Nagaur becomes a bustling town when the cattle, horses and camels accompanied by their buyers and owners from all over the state gather here to buy and sell them. The Nagauri bulls, the long-lashed camels, cows and the stately and handsome horses are traded in this fair. The other main attraction of this fair are the the dusky Rajasthani women, stunning in their flowing skirts and vibrant beads, and men, donning colourful turbans and gold earrings and hawking wooden and leather handicrafts. The hides of the animals, cut into beautiful patterns, are particularly interesting. The Mirchi Bazaar, the largest market for red chillies is held during this fair.
The day starts with the buyers and selllers engaged in earnest bargains and ends with the dances, songs and merrymaking. The camel races, cock fights and the fascinating tug-of-war are also held during this fair. It provides an opportunity to local people as well as the foreign tourists to know the rural life and participate in various activities and enjoy the festival.
Baneshwar Fair, Banswara (February)
Baneshwar Fair is held in Baneshwar in Banswara, Rajasthan during Shivratri in the month of February. This religious tribal fair is held on the banks of the Mahi and Som rivers in the forested area aound the border of Rajasthan that it shares with Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. In this fair tribal people from Rajasthan and from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat gather in a large number and offers prayers to Lord Shiva and set camps in colourful groups.
Chaksu Fair (March)
A large group of rural people gather in Chaksu from all over Rajasthan during the Chaksu Fair, also known as the Shitla Mata Fair or Basoda. This fair is considered to be one of the most colourful event in the Rajasthan fair calendar. This large fair is held to propitiate the goddess of war whose wrath can be the terrible scrouge of smallpox unless appeased by her followers. The food which is eaten on this day consists of the food which is prepared on the previous day.
Brij Festival (March)
Brij Festival is celebrated a few days before Holi in the month of March in the Brij area around Bharatpur. This festival is celebrated on the occassion of the arrival of spring season with music and dance.
Elephant Festival (March)
The Elephant festival is celebrated in Jaipur in the month of March, on the day of Holi. The major attractions of this festival is the elephant polo, elephant race, the tug of war between elephants and men and women and various other cultural programmes. The most colourful part of this festival is the Holi played on the back of elephant. In this festival, the elephants, camels, horses and folk dancers move in procession and take part in various competitions. In this festival, the tourists can watch the cultural programmes of music and dance and also play the festival of colors. The sight of beautifully dressed elephants moving majestically in a pageant is certainly a sight to behold.
The mahawats or owners decorate the bodies of the elephants with bright colours, jhools and heavy jewellery. In the end, the prizes are given to the most beautifully decorated elephant. Elephant Festival, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Gangaur Festival, Jaipur (March / April)
The Gangaur festival is a very significant festival of women in Rajasthan. This festival is mainly celebrated in Jaipur, Udaipur and Mandawa in March or April. This festival celebration goes on for almost two weeks after Holi is over. This festival is devoted to Goddess Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. During this festival the young girls and women wore their traditional dress of 'Lehnga' 'Choli' and 'Odhni', sing and dance and pray Issar and Gangaur, manifestations of Shiva and Parvati, for grooms of their choice while the married women pray for the well being of their husbands.
During this festival various activities take place in a grand procession which marks the arrival of Lord Shiva to take his bride home.
Mewar Festival, Udaipur (March / April)
Mewar festival is celebrated in Udaipur during the period of March or April and coincides with the Gangaur festival. This festival is celebrated to welcome the spring season. During this festival, the whole city turns out to mark the end of the 18 day festival and there are devotional music concerts, performances by the artists in music and dance and fireworks. The main attraction of this festival is the procession of colourfully attired women carrying images of the Goddess Gauri to Lake Pichola and the procession of the floats on the lake.
Ajmer Urs, Ajmer (May)
Ajmer Urs is held in the memory of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer. The date of this Urs is not fixed, and it is held according to the moon. The Urs commemorates the symbolic union of the saint with God. During this festival thousands of pilgrims from all over the world gather at the shrine and offer their prayers to the holy saint. This festival is celebrated for almost six days with continuous music and other programmes and Qawaalis (poems) are sung in the honour of the saint. On the final day, women wash the tomb with their hair then squeeze the rose water into bottles as medicine for the sick. The complete town of Ajmer is decorated with buntings, and wears the spirit of festivity.
Summer Festival, Mount Abu (June)
Summer Festival is organised in the month of June in Mount Abu, the only hill station of Rajasthan. This is the only festival which is celebrated in the summers. Folk dances and cultural programmes presented by the Bhil tribes of the region presents a general atmosphere of gaiety in this tiny hill resort so that the tourists can relax and enjoy themselves.
Teej Festival, Jaipur (August)
Teej is an important festival of Rajasthan. Teej festival is celebrated on the onset of the monsoon season in the month of August. This festival is also dedicated to the worship of goddess Parvati. The Teej festival is celebrated all over the state, but, it is mainly celebrated in Jaipur, where the idol of the goddess Parvati is taken out in colourful procession accompanied by song and dance, for two days.
The women and young girls gather in large groups, dress up in colouful clothes and spend time on swings decorated with flowers and enjoy the festival by singing and dancing. Teej Festival, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Marwar Festival, Jodhpur (October)
Marwar Festival is dedicated mainly to the music and dance of the Marwar region. This festival is celebrated in Jodhpur in the month of October. It attempts to showcase the art and culture of the Jodhpur region and the Maand festival is the main part of this huge festival. The Marwar festival allows the tourists to understand and enjoy the folk music and dance of not only Jodhpur but also of the whole of Rajasthan.
Pushkar Fair, Pushkar (November)
Pushkar is famous all over the world due to its Pushkar Festival which takes place in the month of November. During this festival the whole of Pushkar is transformed into a spectacular fair ground where thousands of pilgrims come to bath in the holy water of Pushkar lake and pray at the Brahma temple and the actual fair is held in the vast stretch of desert. Pushkar fair is also the world's biggest cattle and camel fair where farmers, breeders and camel traders buy and sell. It is also a time for friends and families to get together, camp in the desert, entertain each other with folk songs and dances, cook meals over camp fires, and shop in the fair.
Special tented camps are set up on this occassion for the visitors in Pushkar.