When we think about Rajasthan, we think of colours and brightness, royalty and hospitality, celebrations and feasts, music and dance, culture and tradition, history and heritage.
Rajasthan packs the essence of Incredible India in 1 state. And the experience of Rajasthan is never complete unless you have a taste of the myriad fairs and festivals that it has to offer. They are a celebration of life, culture, heritage, and nature, in true Rajasthani style. Here are some of the festivals of Rajasthan you must experience at least once in your lifetime. Here is a list of fairs and festivals of Rajasthan:
Rajasthan International Folk Festival Jodhpur:
Hailed as a ‘People’s Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development’ and patronised by the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Sir Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, RIFF is an annual music and art festival for the promotion of traditional folk music and arts. It is celebrated around Sharad Purnima, the brightest full moon night of the year and is a unique celebration of Indian as well as international music at Jodhpur’ Mehran Garh Fort. More than 200 musicians from around the globe attend this festival, making it an absolute treat for music and art lovers. It coincides with the Marwar festival.
Desert Festival Jaisalmer:
A three-day event organised by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation in the month of February, it is an absolute bonanza that celebrates the delights of the desert. The atmosphere is alive with song and dance, with the artists dressed in bright colours and traditional finery, depicting the tragedies and accomplishments of the desert. A showcase of desert rituals and life, camel races, gymnastic stunts, several competitions like the longest moustache, turban tying, Mr Desert etc, delicious food and interesting stalls selling handicrafts and other souvenirs will make it a memorable 3 days of your life.
The Big Daddy of all desert festivals, Pushkar Fair is a spectacular five-day camel and livestock fair held in the town of Pushkar, on the banks of the Pushkar lake in Rajasthan. It also coincides with the religious celebration of Kartik Ekadashi, when the Pushkar lake was supposed to be created by Lord Brahma. Primarily a livestock fair for the buying and selling of camels, the Pushkar fair attracts hordes of tourists making it a true cultural bonanza of art, music, dance, puppet shows, gypsy dance, races, competitions with a host of vendors selling delicious snacks including camel milk cheeses and cakes, jewellery, shawls and other titbits. The entire festive and spiritual atmosphere completely lights up the desert in these five days.
Teej Festival Jaipur:
One of west India’s biggest festivals, Teej commemorates two things – a woman’s love for her husband and the advent of the monsoon season. The festival is marked by colourful celebrations where the womenfolk observe fasting and apply mehndi designs on their hands, enjoy long swing rides, song and dance with other women, tell stories and deck up in festive attire to celebrate the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The markets and bazaars of Jaipur are filled to the brim with attractive clothes, jewellery and sweets like Ghewar and Malpua. A procession of a decorated idol of Goddess Parvati is carried through Jaipur, and thousands of devotees and tourists throng to see the procession and the antique palanquins, chariots, bands, folk music and dance and soak in the cultural revelry.
Gangaur Festival Jaipur:
Another festival that commemorates the goddess Parvati and her home-coming, it is celebrated with huge fanfare in Rajasthan by women. Processions of a decked up Goddess Gauri are carried all over the city and everyone participates in these processions, often accompanied by elephant processions, old palanquins, chariots, folk song and dance and often ends with fireworks. It coincides with the Mewar Festival in Udaipur. This is a very famous festival of Rajasthan.
Jaipur Literature Festival:
Perhaps not as glamorous as some of the other festivals on this list, JLF is the world’s largest free literary festival. Nobel laureates, Booker prize winners, debut novelists – the who’s who of the literary world come together for five days of readings, discussions and debates at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur. A great platform that provides access to some of the greatest authors and thinkers on this planet and gives courage to young minds to dream and imagine, it is not a chance anyone should miss.
Camel Festival Bikaner:
Organised in the honour of the ship of the desert, the Camel Festival is a spectacular festival celebrated in Bikaner. Just like the other celebrations of Rajasthan, this festival kicks off with great pomp and show. Celebrated every year in the pleasant January, the Camel Festival is a two-day long affair with a colourful parade of the decked up camels against the backdrop of the magnificent Junagadh Fort. It includes camel race, camel games and other cultural performances. Though celebrated to glorify the camels of Rajasthan, this festival also includes the traditional Rajasthani folk performances. The festival concludes with an awe-inspiring display of fireworks, illuminating the majestic skies of Bikaner.
Urs Festival Ajmer:
Usually held in the month of May and June, the Urs Festival is one of the major festivals celebrated at the venerated Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Hordes of pilgrims travel to this town, located to the West of Jaipur to visit this holy shrine. The Urs Festival commemorates the death anniversary of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the revered Sufi Saint. The fair is held for six days because it is believed that the Khwaja Moinuddin cooked for six days before he left his mortal remains. His followers from all over the world throng Ajmer to seek his blessings during these six sacred days.
Brij Festival Bharatpur:
The most loved festival in India is celebrated in a grand and elaborate style, a few days ahead before Holi, in Bharatpur located in the Brij region of Rajasthan. The spirit of the city comes alive during this festival, with people dressed in their brightest attires and singing colourful songs. Lord Krishna is worshipped in this festival, thus the entire love story of Krishna and Radha is showcased in the form of a dance, which is the unique feature of this festival. The entire region is immersed in the colours of Holi during this time and the people are at their merriest self. Tourists from far and wide come to Bharatpur to experience the out of the world festivities.
The Kumbhalgarh festival is a celebration of Maharana Kumbha’s contribution toward art and culture. It is celebrated in his place of residence, the Kumbhalgarh Fort. The Kumbhalgarh Fort is beautifully decorated during this time, with all the chandeliers being brought out for display along with other royal works of art. Traditional artists are called from all parts of India to showcase their craftsmanship from jewellers to potters. The festival is divided into three days with different themes on each day. There are also different competitions held each day, to bring out the enthusiasm of the visiting tourists. Kalbeliyas, Langas, Kachi Ghodi and Odissi dancers often hold dance sessions. The festival is a joint venture of the government of Rajasthan and the Department of Tourism to give a feel of India to foreigners.