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.
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.
The colorful Marwar festivities, take off at the monumental fortress of Mehrangarh and the magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace, emblems of Rajput gallantry and power. The jubilations relive the valiance of heroes of the yester years. The rhythms of the folk music spins an old world charm and captures the imagination of the visitors. Brilliant folk dance performances are also the highlights of the festival.
The glittering Festival of Marwar is further jazzed up by exciting ride on horses and camels, that will surely be an indelible experience worth cherishing. Edge of the seat polo matches, the game of the regalia, also draws crowds in hordes.
There are different reasons why Pushkar ka Mela is observed. Since this is one of the major cattle fairs in India, cattle merchants across the nation find it as an ideal venue to trade cattle and make some money. Pushkar is one of the five dhams or sacred places for the Hindus and devotees come to bathe at the holy Pushkar Lake and show respect to Lord Brahma at Shri Brahma Mandir. This is the only Brahma Temple in the world.
The Pushkar Fair begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadasi and ends at Kartik Purnima in the month of October-November. The celebrations usually continue for five days.
The Gangaur Festival is the local festival of that is celebrated statewide especially in Jaipur by the womenfolk with great ardor and religious zeal. The women worship Gauri, the companion of Lord Shiva during the month Chaitra( July -August). The festival begins following the day of Holi and the first day of the Chaitra month and continues for eighteen days.
Once in every year, the golden desert of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is enlivened with myriad colors, melody and laughter of the fascinating Desert Festival. The Desert Festival of Jaisalmer acquires a splendiferous native simplicity with the backdrop of the Medieval Sandstone fort, the Sam Sandunes and the people vibrant people clad in bright colored apparels. In fact Jaisalmer is the only place where which this Desert Festival is celebrated with gusto and exuberance.
According to Hindu mythology Teej is an occasion for the married ladies and girls dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati, which is celebrated on the third day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Shravan. Teej is celebrated by married women praying for their happy married life and also unmarried girls pray for their best match. It is widely celebrated all over the country but Teej in Rajasthan is celebrated with great excitement and enthusiasm.
The Teej Fair is organized by the locals of Rajasthan collaborating with the Department of Tourism. It is famously known as the 'Saawan mela'. At this particular time, many crafts markets & exhibitions and food bazaars bloom up for the people. Any celebration in Rajasthan is incomplete without cultural folk programs. There is singing, dancing, dramas and other festivities as well.
The history-laced Pink City of Jaipur is a traveler's Shangri-la. Marvelous yester year architecture, lovely forts and fantastic locales- it is truly an oasis, far away from the frenetic pace of our regular lives. The Kite Festival, celebrated on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, is another highlight of this imperial city. Hundreds and thousands of tourists flock to its Olympian realm every year, on the fourteenth day of the month of January.
The festival is marked by the coming together of ardent contestants. Exclamations of joy and disappointment reverberate all across the polo grounds as kites jostle for space in the clear azure expanse. Contestants make a beeline for the kite competitive segment of the celebrations. One can also showcase one's kite flying skills in the non-competitive section. The Indian Air Force's kite exhibition provides spectacular entertainment for the audience. Lavish spreads at beautiful haunts await contestants at the end of an eventful day.
Rajasthan and is the coldest region of the state. This place houses the highest peak- Guru Shikhar Peak of the Aravali Ranges, the oldest fold mountains of the world. It was the summer retreat of the British people and hence the place breathes a colonial air of its past.
The cold place comes alive with the summer festival during the month of Aashadh( in Hindu Calendar ) that falls in June. Summer season imparts a festive look to the place. In fact the serene lakes, the steep cliffs and the picturesque landscapes make Mount Abu ideally suited for the fun and enjoyment of the summer festival. The three day festival showcases folk and classical performances including folk and classical music and gives us a glimpse of the culture and tribal life of Rajasthan.
The festival of elephants can be traced back to the evergreen tales of Jataka where the custom of Hastimangala finds a prominent mention. An integral part of many a battle, safaris, and imperial ceremonies, this magnificent animal is epitomizes Indian hospitality at its best. A journey to the Amber palace on the back of an elephant is an unparalleled experience.
The Elephant festival, one of the premier attractions of Jaipur, takes off at the Chaugan Stadium. Elephant racing competitions, polo, tug of war contests comprises the celebrations. Herd of elephants, adorned with all the beautiful trappings of royal splendor, cuts an outstanding spectacle.
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.
Last Updated on 01 December 2011