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FAIRS AND FESTIVALS

Camel Fair - Pushkar PUSHKAR FAIR (November)

Held at Pushkar near Ajmer once in a year, better known by the name of Pushkar Cattle Fair, is one of the most colorful festivals of India. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy water of the Pushkar Lake. Legend has it that the lake appeared miraculously on the spot, where the petals of the lotus fell from the hands of lord Brahma.

Pushkar has an atmosphere of an ancient town, peaceful and secluded but for twelve days of the month of KARTIK (Hindu calendar), it transformed into a spectacular fair ground.. The fair is overwhelming in its magnitude and in its visual impacts. Vendors peddle their dazzling range of wares in hundreds of roadside stalls.

Lord Brahma Temple - Pushkar RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

People come from different parts of Rajasthan to worship lord Brahma and take bath in the holy lake. Pilgrims start coming since early morning in groups singing the religious songs dedicated to Hindu gods to take bathe in the Pushkar Lake. The process continues throughout the day to turn into DEEPDAN ceremony in the evening. The entire atmosphere reverberates with the ringing of bells. At night, hundreds of small oil lamps placed on green leaves set the lake alight. Shopkeepers keeps their shops open for day and night for the last three / four days to keep the city alive.

CAMEL AND CATTLE

Worlds largest number of camel gathering is a spectacular seen that floods this area with thousands of tourist every year. The most spectacular site besides the animals is the day-to-day activity of the people who comes with the animals and spend the day and night under open sky. Horse races, camel races and other animal based events are organized by the organizing committee to choose the best animal of the fair.

Snake Charmer - Puskar Fair MARKET AND THE COLORFUL PEOPLE

The temporary market created only for the fair period for the all kind of material used by the villagers, agriculture goods, camel/ horse saddles, ready made cloths, sweets, circus, magician and the people with their colorful traditional dresses turns this small town and surrounding area into a fairyland and paradise for the photographers and tourist as well.

Camel Fair - Nagaur NAGAUR (February)

Nagaur awakens to bustling life every year with thronging of cattle and camels accompanying by their turbaned owners and eager buyers. This cattle fair held yearly is supposed to be the largest in Rajasthan. The Nagaury breeds of ox is renowned for their fleet-footedness and therefore, attract buyers from all over the country. The day start with buyers and sellers engaged in earnest bargain. Once the price of an animal has been settled, the day draws to a close with fun and festivity.

Nagaur fair is purely a fair for the agriculture community. This fair is the biggest display of the range of wares used for the agriculture. Villagers can be seen putting up their temporary stalls to sell the fresh crop of red chilies. Camel is another attraction of the fair. The local tribe Raika, who are very well known as the camel and sheep breeders, comes with their herds of camel for the treading.

Jain Temple - Ranakpur JAMBHA (March)

A fair dedicated to the founder of the Bishnoi sect, held once in a year for two days at a very small village Jambha, between the triangle of the desert cities Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Bishnoi people come in their traditional dresses – women wear colorful Ghaghara, Choly and Odhani. Women also put silver and gold jewelry and man folk wear white cloths and white turban. The Jambha fair is purely a religious fair.

A holy fire of Yagna continues for two days, where all the Bishnoi people has to pay their tribute after taking bath in the lake and before going to the temple of the founder Jambeshwar. The temporary market sate for the fair is the attraction for the local as well as the tourist. The colorful stalls turn the desert land into a fairyland, where every side the colorful women can be seen with their best outfits and jewelry. The group of proud young men and women at shops teasing each other is a wonderful sight of this fair.

Baneshwar Fair - Banswara BANESHWAR FAIR (February)

Held once in a year in south Rajasthan, Baneshwar is the main religious fair of the tribes living around the area. It is believed that the fairs held on the day when the hidden stream of the Holly River Ganges appears all of sudden to mix-up with the two local rivers (Som & Mahi) flows in this region.

ACTIVITIES

1) A silver image of lord Kalki, the future reincarnation of Vishnu is brought on horse back with the tribal people singing and dancing around.
2) Selection of boys and girls for marriage.
3) Tribal girls and boys meat each other to choose their life partners.
4) The last rituals of the people died in the last one-year.

Elephant Festival - Jaipur ELEPHANT FESTIVAL JAIPUR (March)

Elephant festival held every year on the festival of colors Holly in the month of March.

ACTIVITIES

1) Best decorated elephant competition.
2) Elephant races.
3) Elephant polo.
4) Holi: people (tourist and local both) play with colors while sitting on the elephants.

Gangaur Festival - Jaipur GANGAUR FESTIVAL (March)

The most important local festival of Rajasthan, Gangaur, is dedicated to the goddess Parwati, a symbol of conjugal bliss and marital happiness. A festival of maidens and married women, it begins on the day, the festival Holy is played with color, and continues for eighteen days. Colorful wooden images of Parwati are beautifully dressed and bejeweled. Offerings are made in each house. The women add to the excitement by singing and dancing. Processions are taken out with the town band playing the best music.

The main procession held in Jaipur and Udaipur, where the royal family of each participates in organizing the festival. Escorts walk along with their horses in the royal procession of Gangaur, followed by the elaborate palanquins with the most decorated image of Parwati in it. Groups of people sing and dance on the local folk. People come to watch the procession make it more colorful with their traditional costumes.

Dussehra Festival - Jaipur Dussehra

The festival of Dussehra (also spelled Dasara or Vijaya Dasami) marks the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon king Ravana. On this day, Rama killed Ravana. Dussehra marks the end of the nine days of Navratri, and is celebrated on the tenth day. On this festival, people decorate the house and shop entrances with flower studded strings called "Torans" (Floral Gateways). At night effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight. From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in procession to the Kullu Fair ground with a lot of gaiety, music and colour. Down South in the city of Mysore, the exotic and colourful celebration of Dussehra leaves many a visitor enthralled.

Deepawali Festival - Jaipur Deepawali

Meaning an array of lamps, it is the Festival of Lights and perhaps the only festival that is celebrated along the length and breadth of the country without any diversity as well as amongst Indians all over the world.This festival is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama, his consort Sita and brother Lakshmana, to their kingdom after 14 years of exile. To celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya are believed to have lit up their houses and streets with lamps and the tradition is followed till date. People also conduct Lakshmi Puja to please the Goddess of Wealth.

Holi Festival Holi

The 'Holi' festival is a very fun-filled and popular occasion in the northern part of India. It is an occasion when people smear each other with bright colored powders, which are known as Gulal, and colored water. This festival is celebrated around early March each year. It can be said that ‘Holi’ festival is called a bright festival as a wide range of bright colors is used during it. The people believe that the bright colors represent energy, life, and joy.

There are many legends given as the reason for celebrating 'Holi'. There is one popular legend that is reputed to bring about the birth of 'Holi'. It seems that long ago there was an evil king named King Hiranyakasipu. His son, prince Prahlad however was very holy and often prayed to God and this infuriated his father. One day, the wicked king ordered his sister, the demon Holika, to kill his son. The demon Holika, who was immune to fire, captured prince Prahlad and entered a fire furnace. She had done this to kill the prince, however it was her who was burnt to ashes. Prince Prahlad was safe and was not burnt at all. The legend goes that before the demon aunt died, she begged for prince Prahlad’s forgiveness and the prince forgave her and announced that her name would be remembered once a year. Thus the festival ‘Holi’ was created.

Gangaur Festival - Jaipur Maha Shivaratri

Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (Feb or March) every year. On the auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the 'Tandava'. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and bel leaves on Shiva Linga.

Janmashtami Janmashtami

Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion in the August/September months, on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon, in the whole of north India. Temples and homes are beautifully decorated and lit. An attractive feature of the celebrations are cribs & other decorations depicting stories of Lord Krishna's childhood. There are five main "jhankis" of Janmashtami which depict the entire sequence of events from Lord Krishna's birth to his being discovered in Gokul. The "jhankis" include the birth of Krishna in jail, Vasudev carrying Krishna to safety across the river Yamuna amidst thunder and lightning, Vasudev's return to the jail, Kansa killing Yashoda's daughter and finally the little Krishna in the cradle in Gokul. "Jhankis" are created out of dolls dressed up as kids, men and women with lehangas, chunnis, dhotis & kurtas. Raslila of every type are also performed - Janmlila, Shankarlila, Putnalila and Naglila. In the evening bhajans are sung which end at midnight, the auspicious moment when Lord Krishna was born. Thereafter arti is done, prasad distributed and flowers showered on the idol.

Ganesh Chathurthi Ganesh Chathurthi

Lord Ganesha, affectionately called Ganapati, is commonly depicted in homes and offices throughout India as a chubby, smiling and a little mischievous God. His devotees scribe to Ganesha the ability to bestow wisdom and wealth upon us humans, thus making him probably the most popular deity in the Hindu pantheon. To repay Ganesha’s bounty, in India, especially in Maharashtra and nearby areas, the entire population celebrates the ten-day festival of Lord Ganesha’s birthday. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India with great festivities and zest. It is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom and prosperity. The festival honors Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of the Hindu pantheon. During the ten days of Ganesh Chaturthi, the image of the God is worshipped and feted in most homes, temples and halls, and on the last day the images are taken in a procession and immersed in water. Fasting, feasting and distribution of sweets are important aspects of Ganesh Chaturthi rituals in India. Hindus pray to images of Lord Ganesha, large and small, many of them made specially for the occasion by cottage industries and street-side artisans. Even those that do not wish to keep the idols alive by daily prayers, offerings, and lighting oil lamps, immerse them in the nearest water body (rivers, lakes and the sea that are sacred to the Hindus). Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day of Bhadrapada (August/September) month of Indian calendar. The celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian calendar and hence the month in the English calendar varies every year. The festival is celebrated for as many as ten days in areas like Maharashtra, Pune, and nearby areas.

Rakshabandhan Festival Rakshabandhan

The chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister is one of the deepest and noblest of human emotions. 'Raksha Bandhan' or 'Rakhi' is a special occasion to celebrate this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist. This thread, which pulsates with sisterly love and sublime sentiments, is rightly called the ‘Rakhi’. It means 'a bond of protection', and Raksha Bandhan signifies that the strong must protect the weak from all that’s evil. The ritual is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan, on which sisters tie the sacred Rakhi string on their brothers' right wrists, and pray for their long life. Rakhis are ideally made of silk with gold and silver threads, beautifully crafted embroidered sequins, and studded with semi precious stones.

Baisakhi Festival Baisakhi

Several Indian festivals coincide with the harvest time and Baisakhi is one of them. Baisakhi is celebrated by the people of Punjab with vigor and joy. It is celebrated by different names and with different rituals almost all over India, when the Rabi crop is ready for harvesting. Baisakhi is also the day when the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa Panth over three hundred years ago. The Vaishakha period of April and May is filled with festivals of fun, frolic and merry-making and Baisakhi, derived from the word Vaishakh, falls in this auspicious period. Based on the Indian solar calendar, this festival falls on April 13 every year and on April 14 once every 36 years. Other festivals celebrating the harvest are Bihu in Assam, Pongal in South India.

Desert Festival - Jaisalmer Desert Festival

The otherwise sleepy town of Jaisalmer reverberates with enthusiasm and zeal during the Desert Festival that provides it with an occasion to parade its exuberant charm to the world. This colorful spectacle of dance and music showcases the rhythmic dances like Ghoomar, Gangaur, Gair, Dhap, Moria, Chari and Terahtal. The fire dancers are the special highlights of the festival. Held in the month of January-February the major attractions include turban-tying competition, Gair dancers and fire-dancers presenting enchanting displays of folk dance and music The various interesting contests including turban tying and Mr. Desert contest, the Camel races, acrobatics, dances and camel polo are sure to leave you spellbound. An awe-inspiring fusion of traditional dances backed by the folk music of the desert is sure to give you a time of your life. The major attraction of the festival remains the music and dance performance on the sand dunes.

Camel Fair - Bikaner Camel Fair-Bikaner

A unique blend of color, rhythm and melody. The Camel Festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels, Ships-Of-The-Desert, in the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. The festivity advances to the open sandspreads of the Polo Grounds, followed by camel races, camel milking, fur cutting design, the best breed competition, camel acrobatics, camel bands and watching all this, are the gaping spectators. The camel display amazing foot-work, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their riders. Colourful bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands, cast a magic spell. The jubilant, skirt-swirling Gair dancers, the awe inspiring Fire dance, and dazzling fire-works light up the fortified desert city of Bikaner.

Hemis Festival - Ladakh Hemis Festival-Ladakh

A unique blend of color, rhythm and melody. The Camel Festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels, Ships-Of-The-Desert, in the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. The festivity advances to the open sandspreads of the Polo Grounds, followed by camel races, camel milking, fur cutting design, the best breed competition, camel acrobatics, camel bands and watching all this, are the gaping spectators. The camel display amazing foot-work, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their riders. Colourful bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands, cast a magic spell. The jubilant, skirt-swirling Gair dancers, the awe inspiring Fire dance, and dazzling fire-works light up the fortified desert city of Bikaner.

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