Rajasthan – the very name conjures up contrasting images of glistening golden desert dunes, parched landscapes, arid climate and then again, rich culture and cuisine, vibrant arts and crafts, eventful historic episodes, chivalrous and highly cultured people. Probably the constant war with the inimical natural elements has imparted a passion to the natives who live every day of their life to the fullest.
The arts and handicrafts of the region sell like hot cakes all over the country and internationally. Ghesso products, intricately cut marble jharokas, the ivory and lac jewellery, the carved sandalwood idols and the multi hued textiles are always in demand due to their simple charms and low pricing.
Colorful celebrations and cheer spice up the otherwise arduous and taxing life of the native Rajasthanis. A number of fairs are celebrated to celebrate the festive days and these are held especially around the important shrines and temples of the state.
Music and dance and religious euphoria mark these carnivals. Besides these, a number of animal bazaars such as camel fairs and cattle fairs make exchange of animals and other small trade possible. Here is a comprehensive guide to Rajasthan’s people, culture and festivals.
People & Culture of Rajasthan
Water is a scare commodity in the parched desert lands of Rajasthan and hence is deemed precious. Women who fetch water from afar are known as the Panihari. These women often come from the socially and economically backward classes of the state and undertake great hardships to bring in water in camel-hide bags from distant wells and oases.
To keep their minds off the labor, these Panihari sang songs. These songs often had water and rains as their theme. The overworked women created melodious numbers that spoke of flowing rivers and the splashing waves. This provided them the emotional and mental strength in their tedious task. Soon Panihari songs became famous and common.
The young girls of Rajasthan are cherished in their parental homes and they are associated with the Divine Feminine forms of Shakti and Lakshmi and not despised as the commonly misapprehended. A sense of pride and respect is inculcated in the women from childhood. Traditional dictates are respected but individual spirit is not sacrificed either. Mirabai is a classic example. Born in 1948 in Metra in Rajasthan and was married off to Raja Bhoj, the eldest son of Rana Sanga and crown prince to the throne of Chittor or Chittorgarh before she was 18. Her keen devotion to Lord Krishna earned the displeasure of her in-laws who worshipped their family deity, Goddess Durga. With the death of her husband, Mira refused to comply with the existing tradition of Sati (self-immolation of a widow at her husband’s pyre highly looked upon by the Rajputs of Rajasthan). She continued her life as a rebel saint and mingled freely with the common folk, singing and dancing in praise of her favorite deity to the utter annoyance of the royal family. Opposition and infamy meant little to this brave princess and she remains an immortal luminary in the eyes of Rajput women of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is famed for its exquisite woodcraft. Hand carved wooden screens, friezes and jharokas (windows) of latticework or Jali, furniture (cabinets, stools, chairs, tables and cupboards) and house hold items (boxes, picture frames, spoons and ladles) are made of wood. Barmer, Jodhpur, Kishangarh and Shekhawati regions have all their unique styles of furniture making.
Carpets & Rugs
Rajasthan is very famous for the excellent handicraft culture cultivated in the state. Rich hues and exquisite designing are the hallmarks of the hand-woven carpets and rugs. The tradition of weaving hearthrugs, carpets and tapestries dates back almost 2000 years.
The thick rugs and carpeting have about 324 knots per square inch and hence make excellent furnishings. Wool is traditionally used in carpet weaving but Rajasthan carpets and rugs are often made out of silk and cotton fiber. The art of carpe and rug weaving was actively promoted in the state under the patronage of the Mughal monarchs and the Rajput royals. Unique themes and floral patterns provide the themes for these masterpieces and flowers and leaves, buds and fruits are the essence of the designs.
The rich folk art of the state of Rajasthan revolves around the region's rustic life and the common tasks and daily chores that form part of the Rajasthani culture.In the vast desert sands, the best friend these natives can envisage is the camel. Not only does the animal provide transportation on the long journeys, the undemanding creature neither requires extreme care nor demands huge quantities of water and food both of which are scarce in these extreme conditions.
These are beloved creatures and their owners deck them up with beautiful garments and caparisons. The camels’ caparisons and harnesses are called Gorbandh or Gorbundh in the local language.
The women take pride in their traditional jewellery and Rajasthani womenfolk cherish their heritage. The pieces of jewellery are often heirlooms and passed down in families. The Rakhri, Bindi and Borla are the main head ornaments of the women of the state. Besides these, they use an assortment of jeweled pins, clips and hair brooches. The Nath is a nose ring that holds a very important place in the woman’s adornments.
Fair & Festivals of Rajasthan
The term "Baneshwar" meaning the master of the delta in the local Vagdi language, is derived from the reverenced Shiva Linga which is enshrined in the Mahadev temple in Dungarpur of Rajasthan.The Baneshwar fair is the tribal fair that is held at the delta formed by the river Som and Mahi during the month of Shivratri( January -February) from Magh Shukla Ekadashi to Magh Shukla Poornima.
In the past, two fairs were held at the same venue. One fair was held in order to venerate Lord Shiva- Baneshwar Mahadev and the other fair was held after the Vishnu temple was constructed by Jankunwari, daughter-in-law of Mavji( a saint who was considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu). At presence the Baneshwar fair is observed by merging the both.
the Camel Festival celebrates the vigor of this amazing animal. This breathtaking spectacle is put together by the government fuelled department responsible for the promotion of tourism, culture and art of the state. The festival, an yearly affair, kicks off in the month of January. Caparisoned camels hog the limelight. Adorned in lovely trappings, deftly orchestrated camel marches cuts a fine spectacle. The Camel Festival showcases the talent and skills of this magnificent animal. Racing contests, milking competitions are the top draws of this extravaganza. Besides, the most innovative hairdo, the best embellishments, are also much sought after award categories. Beautiful camel dance are perfect fodder your shutterbugs and ideal tokens of remembrance.
The wondrous locales of Rajasthan plays host to a variety of vivacious festivities through the year. The vibrant Nagaur fair is one such colorful jubilation. Each year, in January and February, Nagaur throws its doors open to hundreds and thousands of merchants dealing in domesticated bovine animals.
The fair is an assortment of bullocks, camels, cows, and horses, merchants sporting attire in striking hues, haggling traders and visitors, brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. The bustling fair is also a shopaholics haven. You can stack your bags with lovely artifacts etched in wood and metal from the famed Mirchi Bazaar. Exquisite leather goods are also on display. More Detail...
Last Updated on 01 December 2011