Festivals of Rajasthan, India
India is a country rooted in tradition and ancient cultures. We observe a lot of festivals, celebrate a lot of real and mythological events, and take great joy in participating in fairs and fests of all kinds. Indian festivals are heavy on camaraderie and food, particularly of the sweet fattening variety! Most of them also involve flowers, colours, songs and dances. Festivals in Rajasthan are no different. In fact, they are more likely an exaggeration of the Great Indian Festival! Here are our picks of the most interesting festival experiences in Rajasthan.
The Desert Festival at Jaisalmer was started primarily as an ode to Rajasthan's rich tourist heritage. Held over three days in January or February, the Desert Festival includes glorious folk dances, enchanting musical performances, exciting camel races and daring fire dancers. You can also participate in a fun turban tying competition, and participate in or perhaps judge the ever popular moustache competition! The Desert festival is crafted in a way that will excite your senses and stir your soul.
Traditionally observed as a welcoming of the Spring season, the Mewar festival is held in Udaipur in March or April. Ethnic songs and dances, lively processions, devotional music and firework displays are enjoyed during this period. Processions of women in colourful traditional outfits, carrying an image of the goddess Gauri, wind their way towards Lake Pichola. A ceremonial procession of boats on the lake is followed by songs, dances and other festivities. The festival finally culminates with an impressive fireworks display.
The Pushkar Mela is an annual five-day camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar. With over 25,000 camels on display, the Pushkar Fair is the world's largest camel fair. The Pushkar Mela facilitates a mass trading of cattle such as camels, horses, cows, goats, and sheep. After the selling and purchasing of popular breeds, vendors show off of their best breeds by decking them up. Camels are adorned with colourful cloths and shiny trinkets and paraded around. The "best dressed" camel wins a prize! In another contest, a large number of people are made to sit on a camel's back. The camel usually then runs around and tries to throw the people off its back, amidst cheers from thousands of spectators. The camel which succeeds in accommodating and retaining the maximum number of people on its back, wins the competition.
Nagaur Cattle Fair
The Nagaur Fair of Jodhpur, Rajasthan is held every year during the months of January/February. Like the Pushkar fair, this is also a cattle fair, but the emphasis is more on the trade of bullocks, camels and horses. Animals (and their owners) deck up in all their fineries. You will find men with colourful turbans and long moustaches, and women in colourful ghaahras (layered skirts). Other commodities traded here include red chillies, wooden handicrafts, iron-crafts and camel leather accessories. For the not so faint at heart, hearty games of tug-of-war, camel races, bullock races and cock fights are sure to thrill you. And for the child within you, there are always the jugglers, puppeteers and storytellers. A lot of rustic folk music and dance ensues every evening, making the experience more enchanting.