Fairs & Festivals in Rajasthan
Elephant Festival in Jaipur
The Elephant Festival
is an inimitable event held annually in Jaipur. Groomed
flawlessly, rows of elephants do a catwalk before an enthralled audience liked
best fashion models to make this festival an amazing one.
The elephants move with poise in pageant, run races, play the regal game of
polo, and finally participate in the spring festival of Holi.
It is festival time with elephants typically celebrated one day before the Holi,
Indian festival of colours.
Staged at Jaipur Chaugan Stadium elephants put up a variety programme and the
arena is brought alive with musician and dancer.
The crowd, which includes sizable presences of foreign and Indian tourist, electrify
The festival starts with an impressive procession of the majestic animals lovingly
painted and tastefully attired with glittering ornaments and embroidered velvets.
There are deadly and fierce elephant fights.
A ceremonial procession is recreated with caparisoned elephants, lancers on
horses, chariots, camels, cannons, and palanquins. Elephant is the centre of
attraction in the many races and beauty pageants.
Most of the participants are female elephants. The mahouts (elephant keepers)
take great care to decorate the elephants painting their trunks, foreheads,
and feet with floral motifs and adorning them from tusk to tail with interesting
elephants wear anklets with and make music as they walk.The game of polo forms
the highlight of the festival. Dressed in saffron and red turbans, the teams
try to score goals with long sticks and a plastic football.
Finally, the tourists are invited to mount the elephants and play Holi. Participants
dance with great vigour and the excitement rising to a crescendo.
The Rajput kings had extraordinary implication for elephants not only during
war but also during the royal festivities-a must at royal pageant. Nishan-ka-hathi,
the flag bearer, led the procession. The king always mounted a caparisoned elephant.
Special hunting programs and elephant fights were organized to entertain the
royal guests. Jaipur was a favourite spot with the important personalities of
the British Raj and the Maharajas always arranged for their guests of honour
elephant rides up to the Amber palace. Even today, the mahouts take tourists
up to the Amber Palace on elephant back like shuttle taxis.
Rajasthan Tourism revitalized the ritual by including the Elephant Festival
in the cultural calendar. The present-day pageant, originated only a decade
ago, was worked out especially with the tourist in mind.
The inclusion of the game of polo is more recent, being inspired by a cartoon
in Punch magazine that showed the Indian polo team atop an elephant after it
won all the international tournaments. Every year on Holi, the old stadium at
Jaipur, the Chaugan (originally planned for elephants), makes the setting for
a stunning fete.
A magnificent spectactle, it unveils the majesty and grandeur of elephants celebrated
around Holi. The Mahavats or owners proudly decorate their elephants with bright
colours, jhool., (saddle cloth) and heavy jewellary.
A royal procession of decorated elephants, a match of elephant polo, an elephant
race and playing Holi on elephants are main events.
The Shekhawati Festival held on 10th and 11th February every year is organised
jointly by the State Department of Tourism, District administrations of Sikar,
Jhunjhunu and Churu.
Shekhawati, already famous for its frescoes, is fast becoming a rural tourism
destination too. Travelling on horse back, the tourists get a closer view of
the countryside and the people.
And they return with an indelible imprint of not only the friendliness of the
people but also of the agricultural revolution sweeping the villages -- the
region now exports 80 per cent of its crops whereas only a few years ago it
could meet only 10 per cent of its requirement through local production.
For a broad-based discovery of Shekhawati's culture, the festival is spread
over a number of venues - Nawalgarh, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Churu.
The programmes include a one day tour of the region, camel and jeep safaris,
farm visits, rural games, cultural programmes, haveli competitions and fireworks.
Nawalgarh is the central venue of the festival and can be reached comfortably
by train and road from Jaipur (140 kms by Road).
Nawalgarh also has some of the finest frescoes of Shekhawati. The Clock Tower
is a famous landmark and the Roop Niwas Palace hotel occupies a place of pride
in the town.
Teej is the festival of swings. It marks the advent of the monsoon month of
The monsoon rains fall on the parched land and the pleasing scent of the wet
soil raises into the air.
Swings are hung from trees and decorated with flowers.
Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of
the advent of the monsoon.
This festival is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with
Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati is worshipped by seekers of conjugal bliss and happiness.
An elaborate procession is taken out in Jaipur for two consecutive days on the
festive occasion which is watched by people in large numbers.
The teej idol is richly decorated with ornaments and gaudy dresses. The Teej
idol is covered with a canopy whereas the Gangaur idol is open.
Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer
The urs, acommomerative celebration is held in the solemn memory of Khwaja Muin-nddin
Chisti, a prighly respected sufi saint fondly revered as the benefactor of the
poor, popularly known as Gareeb Nawaz.
The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer, is the place where the Saints mortal remains lie
burried and is the site of the largest Muslim Fair in India.
Chadar; Ghilaph & Neema which are votive offerings for the tomb are offered
by several hundred thousand devotees. Mehfils & Qawwalis are held and mass
prayer calls for the eternal peace of the mankind.
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
The lakeside 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.
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.
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