Welcome to Rajasthan – a timeless land where the sombre colors of the desert perfectly complement its vividly coloured festivals. Attending Rajasthani fairs and festivals is an immersive experience like none other. Here we highlight five offbeat events that are well worth planning your next Indian odyssey around.
A religious fair where one can witness hundreds of locals offering their prayers and taking a holy dip in the lake. The stalls leading to the lake have a wonderfully rustic flavor selling local sweets, toys, bangles etc. This Fair is the largest fair of its kind in the Bikaner district. Kolayat is situated in an arid area but breaking away from the pattern is a lake surrounded by 52 ghats shaded by banyan trees. A large number of people come to Kolayat to redeem themselves by taking holy dips in the Kolayat lake throughout the year, but it is considered very auspicious to take a dip on Kartik Poornima (the main festival day).
WHEN: 2nd to 4th November, 2017
WHERE: Kolayat in Bikaner District
JAMBA JI FAIR
The Jambheswar or Jambaji fair is in honour of Jambheswarji who is the founder of the Bishnoi sect. It is a large and colorful fair where a lot of farming tools and items used in village homes are sold. Traders of different communities arrive at the fair to sell their wares. The buying and selling adds to the atmosphere and to the hustle and bustle of the fair.
The Bishnois form a separate sect and do not mix with other Hindus and worship Vishnu in his Jambhaji incarnation. For their love and respect towards nature, they are known as the world’s earliest environmentalists. The Jamba Fair is a religious fair where the holy fire burns for two days. All Bishnois pay their respects to their founder in the Jambeshwar temple. Non-Bishnois aren’t allowed inside and even entry into the fair is subject to permission from the local community.
WHEN: 29th March, 2017 (Main Festival) & 21st September, 2017 (Smaller Festival)
WHERE: Jamba Village, Tehsil Phalodi, District Jodhpur
The Lohawat fair is another festival in honour of the aforementioned Jambheswarji, the founder of the Bishnoi sect. It is celebrated in Lohawat because the guru is supposed to have meditated in the area and spent time here. Traders of different communities arrive at the fair to sell their wares.
WHEN: 28th February, 2017
WHERE: Lohawat Village, District Jodhpur
Commonly referred to as the second largest Cattle Fair in India, Nagaur is where people come from near and far to trade, parade, celebrate, and race oxen, camels, and cows. It is a lively and colorful scene that is part bazaar and trade fair and part sporting event. On a walking tour of the fair, one can see the Mirchi bazaar, where merchants sell wooden items, iron crafts, and leather goods; and storytellers and jugglers entertain along the streets. Those interested can take the camel-cart ride to see some of the camel races, performances, and competitions that are one of the highlights of the fair.
WHEN: 22nd – 25th February, 2018
The Camel Festival is organized by the Department of Tourism, Art & Culture, Rajasthan in Bikaner every year. January is just the right month for a desert spree, and Bikaner is just the right place to see the Ships of the Desert.
Camel activities are arranged in the stadium and camel races and performances keep the day and spirit alive. Competitions for the best-decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel milking and the best camel hair cut are organized. The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their drivers. The morning and evening processions through the streets of Bikaner is a visitor’s delight with decorated, bejeweled camels paraded proudly by the owners.
WHEN: 13th – 14th January, 2018
NOTE: Looking for a place to stay while checking these events out? Stay at the Dera Dune Retreat, a property that allows you a deep insight into these wonderful festivals while ensuring maximum comfort and style. For more details visit their website here.