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Festivals in India
 Pushkar Fair
Camel Festival
Gangaur Festival
Kite Flying Festival
Desert Festival
Brij Festival
Teej Festival
Marwar Festival
Nagaur Fair
Urs Fair (Ajmer)
Taj Mahotsav
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TestimonialsVinay, I just wanted to tell you thanks again for all your help with the group we had back in February. We really appreciated the good service and your help organizing the trip. Thanks.
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Home » Festivals in India

Festivals in India


Pushkar Fair

Pushkar Fair The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the largest in India and the only one of its kind in the entire world. During the fair, Lakhs of people from rural India flock to Pushkar, along with Camel and Cattle for several days of live stock trading, horse dealing, pilgrimage and religious festivities. This small town, becomes a cultural phenomenon when colourfully dressed devotees, musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, traders, comedians, sadhus and tourists reach here during Pushkar fair. According to Hindu chronology, it takes place in the month of Kartika (October or November) beginning on ashtmi 8th day of Lunar Calendar and continues till full moon (Poornima). The Camel and Cattle trading is at its peak during the first half of festival period. During the later half, religious activities dominate the scenario. Devotees take dips in the holy "Sarovar" lake, as the sacred water is known to bestow salvation.

This small town is transformed into a spectacular fair ground, as rows of make shift stalls display an entire range of objects of art to daily utility stuff. Decoration items for Cattle, Camel and women, everything is sold together. Small handicraft items are the best bargain for buying souvenir. The Camel and Horse races have crowds to cheer. Camel judging competitions are Quite popular with animal lovers. Each evening brings different folk dances and music of Rajasthan, performers delivering live shows to the roaring and applauding crowds.

Pushkar fair has its own magic and it's a lifetime experience for travellers. It has featured in numbers of travel shows, films and magazine. According to lonely planet -"Its truly a feast for the eyes. If you are any where within striking distance at the time, Its an event not to be missed." Foot print India handbook 200 I writes- "The huge mela is Pushkar's biggest draw an unforgettable experience."

Shilpgram
During the fair, arts & crafts exhibition cum sale is organised at 'Shilpgram', situated at RTDC Tourist Village Campus. Crafts persons & artisans from allover Rajasthan & nearby states participate to exhibit and demonstrate their art & talent.

How to Reach

Air
-nearest airport is Jaipur, which is connected with major cities. A newly built air strip at Kishangarh can cater to small charter flights. Helipad at Ghooghra (Ajmer) and Devnagar (Pushkar) can cater to clients travelling by helicopter.

Rail
-Ajmer is well connected by Rail to all-important cities. Pushkar is just 12 Km. away from Ajmer.

Road
-Ajmer is well connected to important cities of Rajasthan and country. Jaipur-145 Km., Delhi-415 Km., Mumbai-900 Km., Ahemadabad-520 Km., Jodhpur-205 Km., Bikaner-265 Km., Nagaur-1 SO Km., Jaisalmer-475 Km., Merta-70 Km., Bundi-180 Km., Kota-220 Km.
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Camel Festival

The Camel Festival is an event organized in Bikaner by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, every year in the month of January. Desert region's Folk dances and Music, add on to what is otherwise an exclusive camel affair. A festival when the ships of the desert are seen at their best. Camels fascinate tourists from all over the world with their movements, charm and grace. A spectacle of unusual camel performances: camel races, camel dances, and the bumpy, neck shaking camel rides.

Camel FestivalActivities
The festival starts with the procession of beautifully decorated camels. The procession heads towards the open sand grounds. Here, the festivities begin in earnest. The Camel Pageant is held on the first day wherein the camel owners show off their Camels' decorations and jewellery. Camel dance performances are also held. A competition for best decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel milking and the best camel hair cut is organized The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their drivers. Colourful bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands, cast a magical spell.

In this festival tea and sweets prepared by camel milk are made available to the visitors interested in enjoying them.

On the second day, the fleetest camels of the region take part in the camel races. The competition is fierce as the best camels vie for the honors. Thousands of excited tourists and locals cheer the favorites.

On both days, the evening ends with a rendezvous with the renowned folk artists of Rajasthan. The jubilant, skirt swirling dances, the awe inspiring fire dances and many other equally interesting performances entertain the visitors. The grand finale is a magnificent display of fireworks which illuminates the desert city of Bikaner.
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Gangaur Festival

Gangaur FestivalGangaur Festivals holds a special significance for the Rajasthanis. It is celebrated in honour of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. Young girls adorned in their best clothes pray for a spouse of their choice. The married ladies pray for the welfare of their husbands. This spring festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal all over Rajasthan. The celebrations at Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nathdwara and Jaisalmer are full of pomp and are a must-see.

Activities
At an auspicious hour in the afternoon, a procession is taken out to a garden, tank or a well with the images of Isar and Gauri, placed on the heads of married women. Songs are sung about the departure of Gauri to her husband's house. The procession comes back after offering water to the image of Gauri, which faces backwards on the first two days. On the final day, she faces in the same direction as Isar and the procession concludes with the consignment of all the images in the waters of a tank or a well. The women bid farewell to Gauri and turn their steps homewards with tears in their eyes and the Festival comes to an end.

History
Parvati or gauri is the consort of Shiva, the destroyer. The festival is held in her honour as she is the symbol of virtue and fidelity and as such is the mythological role model of married women.

Gangaur is the most important local festival in Rajasthan. It is believed that if unmarried girls observe the rituals of this festival they will get married to the spouses of their choice and married women observe the same for the happiness and long life of their husbands. The celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have a unique charm and attraction.

The festivities begin almost a fortnight before the actual day. Girls worship the goddess throughout the preceding fortnight. Colorful images of Gauri are taken out in procession accompanied by the town band. Thousands of people from the countryside come to take part in the procession of the image from village to village.

Another unique thing about this festival is that on this occasion, tribal men and women have an opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they select partners and marry by eloping.
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Kite Flying Festival

Introduction to the Kite Flying Festival
Gangaur FestivalDelhi has a major role to play in contributing to the national passion and obsession with kite flying that people all over the country share. There is a special kite flying festival that is held in Delhi to commemorate the passion and enthusiasm for kite flying. The venue of the festival is near Palika bazaar at Cannaught Place. One festival, where you cannot miss being a witness to the festive spirit in the air, in the true sense of the term, is the Kite Flying Festival in Delhi. It is a much awaited event that takes place in Delhi, and children and kite flyers all over the country wait for this opportunity to flash their vibrant flying machines and watch the spectacle as they race against the wind high above, surpassing all others.

Description of the Kite Flying Festival
People from all over the country come to Delhi to take active participation in the kite flying festival. There are people from countries outside India too taking part in the Kite flying festival of Delhi. This helps to give the kite flying festival a global dimension as well. Colorful kites of different shapes and sizes adorn the skyline of Delhi, offering quite a beautiful sight for the viewers. The open spaces and terraces in Delhi become a meeting point for the crowd of the kite flyers. There are different competitions that are held as well as friendly flights of the kites. The two different major events of the Kite Flying Festival is the Fighter Kite Competition and the somber Display Flying. There are exciting prizes to be won and trophies given out for all these events. Dinner follows these events where the participants enjoy a gala time, heightening the festive spirit in the air. Palika Bazaar in Delhi is the host to international competitions as well.
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Desert Festival

Jaisalmer exercise immense charm, but with the staging of the annual Desert Festival (January - February), it has also become one of the more important events on the annual calendar. Essentially, it is a showcase of the performing arts of the region on the stretching sands around this desert citadel. A number of amusing turban tying competitions and camel races.

Activities
Desert FestivalThe perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival, held in Jan/Feb. every year, when the city reverberates to the sound of melodious tunes and rhythms. Folk dances, exciting competitions an contests, especially the turban-tying contest. Mr. Desert contest and camel races enliven the festivities. Colorful craft bazaars are set up for the occasion and a sound and light spectacle is organized wit folk artists performing against the splendid backdrop of the famous Sam sand dunes on the full moon night. Surely a not-to-be missed event.

History
The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna-the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would built his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 A.D. when Rawal Jaisal, a descendent of the Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital - Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill.

Bahti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were feudal chiefs who lived off the forced levy on the caravans laden with precious silks and spices that crossed the territory enroot Delhi-or-Sind. These caravans earned the town great wealth.
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Brij Festival

The Brij Festival takes place a few days before Holi, (the festival of colours) in the month of March. Held in honour of Lord Krishna, this festival is marked by verve and zest. Villagers, in gay, multihued attire, can be seen singing and performing the Raslila dance (dance depicting the immortal love-story of Radha and Krishna).

Brij FestivalAll of Bharatpur echoes the sound of folk melodies on this festival held on the eve of Holi. Melodious Dance is often a part of the cultural music and the stories or Nayaks who are Pabu Bhopas, have a female accompanist; together they recite the phad ( a painted ballad). The festivities are usually tagged with folk dances accompanied by music played. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor-all are touched by the spirit of this festival. Boisterous revellers spare no one during this festival and delight in splashing colour on everyone around.

Folk opera is another field which has been made immensely popular by the professionals, often in association with amateurs during the brij festivals. Rajasthan brij city comes alive with the echoes of music and rhythms of traditional dances performed by the rural folks. The Chairawi and Kuchamani Khyals, Maach of Chittaurgarh area, Tamayha of Jaipur and Rammat of Bikaner are famous. the Alibakshi Khyal, the original Bhawai plays (which still have a strong presence in Gujrat) and the musical traditions of the Rasadharies and Rawals are now extinct.
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Teej Festival

Held during the monsoons, July-August Teej is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati and this time it is married women who pray for a happy and long married life. Though celebrations are held all over the state, it is particularly colorful in Jaipur where a procession winds its way for two days through the Old City. It is the festival of swings which are decorated with flowers and hung from trees. Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of the advent of the monsoon. The Teej idol is covered with a canopy whereas the Gangaur idol is open.

Activities
Teej FestivalTeej is celebrated mainly by the women folk of Rajasthan. Married women who idolize Parvati for her devotion to her husband Shiva celebrate Teej. The festivity revolves around singing and dancing in praise of Parvati. The rituals allow the women to pamper and enjoy themselves, to feast, to dress in the best of cloths, finery and jewellery, in fact to look the stunning best.

All over Rajasthan, even in remote villages, Jhoolas (swings) are hung from trees and decorated with leaves and flowers. Ladies and girls can be seen enjoying on these swings, playing games, singing folk songs and applying Mehandi (henna) on their palms. In Jaipur an idol of Goddess Parvati (Teej Mata) is taken out in a royal procession from the city palace so that the general public can have a chance to pay homage to the Goddess. Antique gilt palanquins, bullock carts pulling cannons, chariots, gaily decorated elephants with silver haodas, horses, camels, brass bands, and group of dances all form a part of this grand spectacle. The Palanquin of Goddess Paravati is carried by 8 men dressed in red color. This kilometer long procession winds its way through the lanes of the old city. Local people come in huge numbers, dress in their best traditional clothes. Space is at a premium as people perch on top of building, windows even trees to catch a glimpse of Goddess. A huge band of urchins follows the Palanquin to grab these offerings.

A lot of merriment prevails during the Teej procession. Groups of men and women can be seen singing dancing and playing musical instruments. Men and women dressed as gods and Goddess also join in the procession.
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Marwar Festival

Held in October in Jodhpur, this annual event attempts to showcase the art and culture of the Jodhpur region. It is devoted almost exclusively to songs and dance, and the Maand Festival has become a part of this huge regional celebration.

Activities
Marwar FestivalThe massive Mehrangarh fort and the impressive Umaid Bhawan Palace which are symbols of might and valour of the Rajputs, make Jodhpur an ideal location for the festival. It was originally known as the 'Maand Festival', a classical style of folk music centred on the romantic lifestyle of Rajasthan's rulers. The festival is held for two days during the full moon of Sharad Purnima.
The Marwar festival displays the music and dance of the Marwar region. The spirited folk dancers gathered here, perform with zest and entertain the audience with Rajasthani folklore. These folk artistes bring to life the myth and legends of the area and sing songs in memory of the brave heroes.
Other attractions of the festival include horse riding and horse polo. Various other competitions are also held during the festival.

History
Once the capital of the Marwar state , it was founded in 1459 A.D. by Rao Jodha-chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama - the epic hero of Ramayana.The massive 15th century A.D. Mehrangarh Fort looms on the top of a rocky hill, soaring 125 Mts. Above the plains. The city is encompassed by a high wall -10 km long with 8 gates and innumerable bastions.
A major trade centre of the 16th century A.D. the fortress-city of Jodhpur is now the second largest city of Rajasthan.
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Nagaur Fair

Also called as the Cattle Fair, is the 2nd largest animal fair of India. Thousands of animals are gathered at the cattle fair for trading. Traders come to buy and sell cows, bullocks (Nagauri breed is renowned), oxen and camels.

Activities
Nagaur FairVarious games are organized during this four day festival. Tug-of-war, camel races, cock fights etc. provide entertainment to the tourists and visitors. As the sun goes down, a joyous atmosphere is created by the folk music and dance, whose voices echo far and wide across the tranquil desert sand.

History
It was bestowed upon Balban as his jagir in 1242. Sher Shah captured Nagaur in 1542 A.D. Nagaur was a sarkar of Ajmer subah during Sur empire and later in Mughal empire. Emperor Akbar built the mosque here, and there is a shrine of the disciple of Mu'inuddin Chishti of Ajmer.

Badal Mahal, Sheesh Mahal & Hadi Rani Mahal are worth seeing. All three have exquisite 18th century frescos on the ceilings. There is also fascinating medieval air cooling system and an ornate old hammam, or bath.
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Urs Fair (Ajmer)

The city of Ajmer is located in central Rajasthan, and is held in great reverence by devotees of all communities who call it 'Ajmer Sharif' (Holy Ajmer). It is here that the mortal remains of the highly respected Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti lie buried.

Urs Fair (Ajmer)The Khwaja came from Persia and established the Chishtia order of fakirs in India. He is popularly known as Gharib Nawaz (protector of the poor) because he dedicated his entire life to the service of mankind. His Spartan life spanned almost a hundred years and he embraced death in solitude while he had withdrawn to his cell for six days, asking not to be disturbed. The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer is the place where the Saint's mortal remains lie buried and is the site of the largest Muslim fair in India. More than five lakh devotees belonging to different communities gather from all parts of the subcontinent to pay homage to the Khwaja on his Urs (death anniversary), during the first six days of Rajab (seventh month of the Islamic calendar.)

The pilgrims who come to seek the blessings of the Khwaja make rich offerings called nazrana at the holy spot where the saint has been entombed. The offerings of rose and jasmine flowers, sandalwood paste, perfumes and incense contribute to the fragrance that floats in the air inside the shrine. Also offered by devotees are the chadar, ghilaph and neema, which are votive offerings for the tomb. These are brought by devotees on their heads and handed over to the khadims inside the sanctum sanctorum. Outside the sanctum sanctorum of the dargah, professional singers called qawwals in groups and sing the praises of the saint in a characteristic high pitched voice. People gather around them and listen attentively, sometimes clapping to the rhythm of their instruments.

The Urs is initiated with the hoisting of a white flag on the dargah by the Sajjada Nashin (successor representative) of Chishtis. It is done on the 25th of Jamadi-ul-Akhir (sixth lunar month), with the accompaniment of music. On the last day of the sixth month, the Jannati-Darwaza (gateway of heaven) is flung open early in the morning. People cross this gate seven times with the belief that they will be assured a place in heaven. On the 1st of Rajab, the tomb is washed with rose water and sandalwood paste and anointed with perfumes. This ritual is called ghusal. The tomb is then covered with an embroidered silk cloth by the Sajjada Nashin.

An interesting ritual is the looting of kheer (milk-pudding) which is cooked in two large cauldrons called degs and distributed to the devotees as tabarruk (blessed food). On the 6th of Rajab, after the usual mehfil and the sound of cracker-bursts accompanied by music, the Sajjada Nashin performs the ghusal of the tomb. Fatiha and Salamti are read. A poetic recitation called mushaira is arranged in which poets of all communities arrive to recite compositions dedicated to the Khwaja. The Qul (end-all) on the 6th of Rajab marks the end of the Urs.

At night, religious assemblies called mehfils are held in the mehfil-khana, a large hall meant for this purpose. These are presided over by the Sajjada Nashin of the dargah. Qawwalis are sung and the hall is packed to capacity. There are separate places reserved for women who attend the mehfil. The mehfil terminates late in the night with a mass prayer for the eternal peace of the Khwaja in particular and mankind in general.

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Taj Mahotsav

Come February and it's springtime! The time of the year when nature dawns all it's colorful splendour and Agra bursts into colorful celebrations. For 10 days there is a sheer celebration of Uttar Pradesh's rich heritage of arts, crafts, culture, cuisine, dance and music. Yes, it is Taj Mahotsava time again. There are Taj Mahotsavfestivities all around and Agra truly puts on the colors of joy and gets transformed into one non stop carnival. Organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism, and held as an annual event at Shilpgram, literally next door to the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahotsav is indeed a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of matercraftsmen and exponents of art, music and cuisine. Not only this, it is also a gentle peep into the rich heritage and extraordinary legacies of this wonderful land.

The festivities commence with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendour. Bedecked elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and mastercraftsmen.... all help to recreate a visual delight reminiscent of the golden era of the Mughal Darbars.

Taj Mahal - Agra
Taj Mahotsav is where the legendary artisans and mastercraftsmen breathe life into their exquisite works of art. Marble inlay apart, the Festival brings forth an array of other fine crafts as well- wood carvings from Saharanpur, brass and other metalwasre from Moradabad, handmade carpets of Badohi, the blue pottery of Khurja, the Chikan work of Lucknow, the silk of Banares... to name a few. Agra with its legendry tradition of exquisite craftmenship is thus the ideal venue for holding a crafts fair like the Taj Mahotsav.

At the Mahotsav, be sure to be a part of the Food Festival. Relish the exotic cuisine's and delicacies prepared by some of the oldest exponents and the typical preparations from the interiors of Uttar Pradesh.

Throughout the Mahotsav, one can experience a profusion of folk music and dances of Dundelkhand, 'Nautanki' (Drama), 'Sapera' dance of Rajasthan, Lavani of Maharashtra.... performed just the way they used to be centuries ago.

Agra is renowned for it's breathtaking, centuries old monuments. For experiencing the pomp and glory of the eras gone by there are classical performances held at these ageless sites, recreating the splendor and ambience once associated with Mughal monarchs.
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