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  Events and Festivals
Festivals of Rajasthan
Desert Festival (February)
Jaisalmer exercise immense charm, but with the staging of the annual Desert Festival (January/February), it has also become one of the more important events on the annual calendar. Essentially, it is a showcase of the performing arts of the region on the stretching sands around this desert citadel. A number of amusing turban tying competitions and camel races.
Pushkar Fair (November)
A few miles north of Aimer is the sacred town of Pushkar (Lotus), situated on the shores of a jewel - like glacial lake. Dun - colored temple – topped hills and sandy fields surround the town. Normally quiet, Pushkar sees a small but steady stream of visitors to its temples and wide bathing steps leading down to the lake. But once a year, at the time of the full moon in November, the town explodes with colorful crowds of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The great Pushkar Fair has become an internationally known attraction. And justifiably so, since it is one of the world’s most dazzling traditional gatherings. Mentioned in the two thousand year old Mahabharata as India’s foremost pilgrimage site, Pushkar was also described by the eleventh century Islamic scholar Alberuni as a place of high veneration for Hindus.
Elephant Festival (March)
The Elephant Festival is a unique event held annually in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience. The elephants move gracefully in procession, run races, play the regal game of polo, and finally participate in the spring festival of Holi. It is festival time for the elephants.
Bikaner Camel Festival (January)
The Camel Festival is an event organized in Bikaner by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, every year in the month of January. Desert region's folk dances and music, add on to what is otherwise an exclusive camel affair. A festival when the ships of the desert are seen at their best. Camels fascinate tourists from all over the world with their movements, charm and grace. A spectacle of unusual camel performances: camel races, camel dances, and the bumpy, neck shaking camel rides.
Mewar Festival (April)
An exhilarating welcome to spring, this festival is a visual feast with Rajasthani songs, dances, processions, devotional music and firework displays. It is celebrated in the romantic city of Udaipur during the Gangaur Festival. A procession of colourfully attired women carrying the images of the goddess Gauri make their way to the Lake Pichola. An unusual procession of boats on the lake offers a fitting finale to this splendid celebration.
Marwar Festival (October)
It is a festival devoted to the music and dance of Marwar region. The festival was originally known as Maand Festival. Held for two days on full moon - sharad purnima, folk artists bring to life the myths, legend and folklore of the area. The festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwin (September/October) in Jodhpur, the former capital of Marwar Province. The festival has on display the music and dance of the Marwar region. The spirited folk dancers assembled here, perform with gusto and entertain the audience with Rajasthani folklore.
Baneshwar Fair (February)
Beneshwar Fair is a five days fair starting from Shukla Ekadeshi of Magh month of Hindu calendar. This is the unique and biggest tribal fair of the country attracting lakhs of devotees. This fair is annually held in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. The name Beneshwar is derived from the holy Shiva Linga located in the Shiv temple in Dungarpur. ‘Beneshwar’ in the local language (Vagdi) means ‘master of delta’.
Nagaur Fair (February)
The Jodhpur Nagaur Fair is the second biggest fair in India. The fair goes on for eight days. Nagaur Fair of Jodhpur, Rajasthan is held every year during the month of January/February. It is popularly known as the Cattle fair of Nagaur. This is because the Nagaur Fair is mainly all about trading of animals. Approximately 70,000 bullocks, camels and horses are traded every year in this fair. The animals lavishly decorated and even their owners dress up wearing colorful turbans and long moustaches. Other trading in the Nagaur Fair in Jodhpur, India consists of sheep to Marwari horses to spices. Some other attractions include the Mirchi bazaar (largest red-chilly market of India), wooden items, iron-crafts and camel leather accessories.
Teej (August)
Teej is celebrated with immense fun and fanfare in the capital city of Jaipur. On this day, women and young girls wear their best clothes and adorn themselves with fine jewelry. They gather at a nearby temple or a common place and offers prayers to Goddess Parvati for well-being of their husband. On the occasion of Teej, markets in Jaipur are stocked with trendiest women accessories and clothes. Most of the fabric clothes display laheria (tie and dye) prints. Sweet shops keep different Teej sweets but ghewar is the main sweet of the season. At some shops malpuas are also prepared in great quantities.
Diwali (November)
The origin of this festival can be traced back to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, when Lord Ram returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. The whole kingdom was light up with diyas (earthen lamps) to celebrate his return. To date, on Diwali day, house all over Rajasthan glow with twinkle of innumerable diyas, candles and electric lights. The night is illuminated with the flaming lights of fireworks, creating kaleidoscopic designs against the black canvas of the sky. Diwali festivals give people a chance to decorate their homes, buy new clothes, visit relatives and friends and take time off from their daily routine to gather together and enjoy the festivities. Special food, naturally, is very high on the agenda, keeping in mind the occasion; a wedding, a festival, a celebration to mark the birth of a male child or a good harvest, even good monsoons, are reason enough to celebrate. Women of the neighborhood gather and prepare sweets like Mawa Kachori, Til Ke Laddo, Gonth ke Laddu, Piste ke Launj, Moti Pak, Pheeni, Sohan Papdi, Besan Barfi, Jalebi, Shakarpara - to name just a few.
Karva Chauth (October)
On the eve of Karva Chauth, the markets are full of women preparing for it. Henna stalls are set up all over the market. Bindi's, glass bangles and all the various types of cosmetics are sold everywhere. Mother-in-laws, on this day, gift various types of sweets, and dresses to their daughter-in-laws (called 'sargi' in Punjabi). Married women, old and young, begin their fast on the day of Karva Chauth well before sunrise (around 4 a.m.), such fasts are kept for the well-being of her husband, who becomes her protector after she leaves her parents home. Her husband provides her with food, shelter, clothing, respectability, comfort and happiness. This is indeed a very tough fast to observe as it starts before sunrise and ends after worshipping the moon, which usually rises at about 8.45 p.m. No food or water is to be taken after 4 a.m. or after sunrise.
Navratri (November)
There is a festive mood in the air when the festival of Navratri is celebrated. People not only clad themselves in new clothes, they also worship the different forms of the goddess. For each of these nine days, she is revered as Durga, Bhadrakali, Amba, Annapurna, Sarvamangala, Bhairavi, Chandika, Lalita and Bhavani, all of them being different forms of the Goddess Durga. Fasts are observed, prayers are told and the blessing of the Goddess is sought. Whatever is offered to the goddess is later eaten by the worshippers as Prasad. It is a time of celebration as well as a time when the followers pray and hope that they will be blesses with success, wealth and relieved from all sorts of evil.
Kallaji Ka Mela (September)
Kallaji ka mela is an annual fair held in the district of Banswara, Rajasthan. The fair is popular among the local people and nearby places. It is held on the first Sunday of Navratri every year.
Karni Mata Mela (September/October)
It is a half-yearly Fair, organized by the natives of Deshnok, the town that was established by Karni Mata, to offer prayers to her and celebrate the fact that her blessings always will bless the inhabitants of the town. Charans, sect of people are staunch followers of Karni Mata and gather in the Fair without fail.
Kota Dussera (October)
Dussehra is the beloved festival that is celebrated almost all over India but Dussehra in Kota certainly sets it apart with 75 feet tall effigies of the demons Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Meghnath that are burnt here on Dussehra day. Villagers dress themselves in colorful dresses and offer prayers to Lord Rama. There is a dazzling procession that mesmerizes the onlookers that come here from the surrounding villages and provide a ripe opportunity for the traders to display their wares. Cultural Programmes are organized and one can see the scintillating performances by the prominent artistes who come here from all over the country.
Sitabari Fair (October)
Sitabari is a small place near Kelwara village in the Sahabad tehsil of Kota district and the fair is held from Baisakh Sudi Punam to Jeth Budi Amavasya. Sitabari is situated in a picturesque forest. According to legend, it marks the spot where Sita was left by Lakshman at the behest of Rama. There are four tanks filled by natural springs. The water is said to cure people of various ailments, particularly mental diseases. The water in these Kunda is cold in summer and warm in winter and the kunds never go dry. The Sitabari fair attracts thousands people who take a bath in the Sita Kund, the Laxman Kund and the Suraj Kund - which are regarded as holy as the Ganges.
Bundi Utsav (November)
Bundi is one of the most picturesque and astonishing spots sited in the Hadoti region in Rajasthan. The Bundi Utsav, held annually in the month of November here, has added to the glory of the place and has provided a worldwide exposure. The function is a spellbinding representation of the culture, folklore, traditions and craft of the region. Some of the most renowned artistes from across the country come to perform and create a gripping atmosphere at the venue. The Bundi Utsav allures visitors not only from India but also from overseas who come to witness the splendid heritage of the country.
Chandrabhaga Fair (October/November)
Chandrabhaga Fair is held every year in Jhalarapatan 6 kms from Jhalawar in Rajasthan in the month of Kartik (October/November). River Chandrabhaga is considered holy by the people in Rajasthan and so on full moon day in the month of Kartik thousands of devotees take a holy dip in this river.
Jaipur Literature Festival (January)
Jaipur hosts a number of literary giants every year in January amid giving farewell to winter. The atmosphere fills with the air of creativity in the beautiful ambience of majestic Diggi Palace. Jaipur Literature Festival is organized by an NGO Jaipur Virasat Foundation that works towards preserving skills, promoting the economic livelihoods of Rajasthan’s musicians and crafts people while protecting heritage. Literature buffs enjoys this opportunity to meet renowned national and international authors and listen as well as interact with them.
Alwar Festival (February)
Alwar festival is a three-day festival which is being organized by the district administration to promote tourism and emphasize the legacy of rich culture in Alwar. An impressive procession through the streets of the town marks the inauguration of the festival on February 13. The events organized at the Alwar Festival include elephant polo, fancy dress and sketching competitions for children, flower show, exhibition of rare and antique items of the region and a film show on the culture and social customs of Alwar.
Brij Festival (February)
The Brij Festival takes place a few days before Holi, the festival of colours. 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-the immortal love-story of Radha and Krishna. All of Bharatpur comes alive to the sound of folk melodies on this festival held on the eve of Holi.Men and women, young and old, rich and poor-all are touched by the spirit of this festival. Boisterous revelers spare no one during this festival and delight in splashing colour on everyone around.
Elephant Festival (March)
The Elephant Festival is a unique event held annually in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience. The elephants move gracefully in procession, run races, play the regal game of polo, and finally participate in the spring festival of Holi. It is festival time for the elephants. A festival where elephants are the centre of attraction. The festival begins with a procession of elephants, camels and horses, followed by lively folk dancers. Elephant races, elephant-polo matches and a most interesting tug of war between elephants and men, are all part of this spectacular event.
Khatu Shyamji (February or March)
Khatu Shyamji is famous for its Shyamji temple. There is a steady stream of devotees the year round, but lakh of them gather at the annual fair from Phalgun Sudi Dashmi to Dwadashi. Apart from being a place of pilgrimage, a large number of people come for the Jadula ceremony (the first time all hair is shaved off the head) of their children. Legend connects the place to the epic Mahabharata war. Krishna, it is believed took the form of a Brahmin and asked for the head of Babhruvahan (Barbrik). He then placed the head on a hillock so that it could watch the war. Pleased with the sacrifice, Krishna, then, blessed Babhruvahan to be worshipped as Shyam himself in Kaliyug.
Shekhawati Festival (February)
Shekhawati, already famous for its frescoes, is fast becoming a rural tourism destination too. Travelling on horse back, the tourists get a closer view of the countryside and the people. And they return with an indelible imprint of not only the friendliness of the people but also of the agricultural revolution sweeping the villages - the region now exports 80 per cent of its crops whereas only a few years ago it could meet only 10 per cent of its requirement through local production. For a broad-based discovery of Shekhawati's culture, the festival is spread over a number of venues - Nawalgarh, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu. The programmes include a one day tour of the region, camel and jeep safaris, farm visits, rural games, cultural programmes, haveli competitions and fireworks.
Gangaur Festival (March)
The Gangaur Festival is the colourful and most important local festival of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the State with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva during July/August. It is the celebration of monsoon, harvest and marital fidelity in Jaipur. Gan is a synonym for Shiva and Gaur which stands for Gauri or Parvati who symbolises saubhagya (marital bliss). Gauri is the embodiment of perfection and conjugal love which is why the unmarried women worship her for being blessed with good husbands, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their spouses and a happy married life.
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