FAIRS OF INDIA
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Fairs of India - Pushkar Camel Fair is held each year in the pilgrimage town of Pushkar to celebrate the annual fair of Brahma Temple. This temple is believed to be the one of very few Brahma Temples in India and is the oldest among them. About 300,000 people from all over Rajasthan gather here in the month of October or November for this festival. They bring along more than 30,000 camels, hundreds of horses, cattle and sheep etc. for trading in the vast fair grounds near the holy Pushkar Lake. Along the lake are many other temples dedicated to various Hindu deities.
Bikaner Camel Fair is held annually in the month of January and it is organized the Rajasthan Government Department of Tourism. The fair is held in Bikaner where a magnificent and colorful procession of festooned and ornamented camels goes through the city to the Polo Grounds. Various folk dancers of the region display their skills during the final ceremony.
Nagaur Festival is held annually in the Hindu calendar month of ‘Magh’ that corresponds to January or February of the Gregorian calendar. Nagaur is a small city near Jodhpur. This is a traditional cattle trading fair. During the fair about 70,000 oxen, cows, camels and horses are traded for a period of one week. The Chilly trade during this fair is the largest in India.
Desert Festival is held each year in the month of February and is organized by the Jaisalmer office of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation. Various folk music, dance and puppet performances are held during the three days. Camel polo match during the festival is especially famous.
Elephant Festival is held annually in the month of March one day before the Hindu festival of Holi. A procession of colorfully decorated Elephants, Camels, Horses and Palanquins passes through the pink city of Jaipur. The Elephant Polo match is a very popular highlight of this festival. The Elephant Polo players wear saffron and red turbans. Riding the elephants they play with long sticks and a large plastic ball.
Gangaur Festival is perhaps the most widely celebrated event in Rajasthan. The most attractive ceremonies take place in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Nathdwara. The festival is held in the month of March or April to honor the Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. This is a festival for the ladies of Rajasthan. They decorate the houses and worship the idols of ‘Gan’ and ‘Gauri’. The unmarried girls pray for a good husband while the married ladies pray for a long, happy and healthy married life. A magnificent procession is organized with the idols or ‘Gan’ and ‘Gauri’ that passes through the city with enthusiastic fanfare. At the conclusion the idols are immersed in a lake or pond.
Kajli Teej Festival is very enthusiastically celebrated in the town of Bundi near Kota in south-eastern Rajasthan in the Hindu calendar month of ‘Bhadra’ corresponding to July or August. The ‘Teej’ Goddess idol is taken in a procession from the Naval Sagar Lake to Azad Park through the main Bazaars of Bundi town. The Goddess is carried in a palanquin that is very artistically decorated and accompanied by caparisoned Elephants, Camels, horses, musical bands and many performing artists. The main festival is held for two days but celebrations continue until Janmashtami (the birthday of Lord Krishna).
Modhera Dance Festival is held each year in the month of January at the Modhera Sun Temple in Mehsana district of Gujarat State. It is organized by the Tourism Department of Gujarat State. Prominent classical dance artists from all over India are invited to participate in this festival that continues for three days.
Lucknow Festival is held in the capital city of the State of Uttar Pradesh for ten days in the months of November and December. Before the takeover by British East India Company Lucknow was the seat of the Nawab of Awadh and was famous for its fine literary and cultural traditions. This festival aims to revive and promote the cultural highlights of the glory days of Lucknow and Awadh. Colorful processions, traditional dramas, Kathak dance in the famous ‘Lucknow Gharana’ style, recitals on Sitar and Sarangi, Ghazal (Urdu Poetry) competitions, Qawwali and Thumri Music performances along with ‘Ikka’ (single horse cart) races, Kite flying and other village games are some of the activities during this annual festival.
Ardha Kumbh and Kumbh Mela are the largest religious fairs of the world. Millions of Hindu ascetics and devotees collect at the venue of this fair. The Ardha Kumbh Mela is held every six years in four rotating venues. The Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years. The venues for the Ardha Kumbh and Kumbh Mela are Prayag near Allahabad, Haridwar in Uttaranchal State, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and Nasik in Maharashtra State. The last Ardha Kumbh Mela took place in Prayag in January and February 2007.
Taj Mahotsava is an annual festival organized to honor the artists and artisans of Agra City. It is held in the month of February at Shilpgram near the eastern gate of the world famous Taj Mahal. During the festival there are wonderful dance performances and displays of finest traditional workmanship by master craftsmen. A vast variety of local cuisine is also available at the venue of the festival. A procession of craftsmen and artisans goes through the town in which the decoration is inspired by the art of the Mughal period of India. Among the handicrafts displayed at the festival are brocade silk from Varanasi and hand-woven woolen carpets from Badohi near Varanasi. Chikan Embroidary Kurtas (ladies and gents shirts) from Lucknow and Blue Pottery from Khurja town are some of the other attractions of this festival.
Sankat Mochan Music Festival is held at the ancient temple of Lord Hanuman in Varanasi in the month of April. Prominent classical musicians from all over India perform in the night at the temple during this festival.
Khajuraho Festival is held for one week during the month of February or March at the Hindu temples of Khajuraho. Classical dancers from all over India perform at the Vishwanath Temple and in an open air-auditorium in front of the Chitragupta Temple in the western group of temples. Both the temples are very artistically decorated with colorful and bright lights and form the background for the dance performances. Apart from the dance performances an open air market of local arts and crafts is also organized.
Chennai Dance & Music Festival is held annually for one month during January. It is organized at a number of different venues in the capital of Tamil Nadu State. The Hindus living in Tamil Nadu consider the month of ‘Margazhi’ sacred. Music and Dance are relevant to the festival because these arts were originally performed in the Hindu temple precincts. The festival originated in 1927 to mark the anniversary of the Madras Music Academy in December. With time the festival grew in prominence and is now held in auditoriums, heritage bungalows as well as some temple premises. About 2000 artists are invited to participate in about 300 concerts that are organized as part of this festival. Some of the rarest musical instruments can be seen in performances at this festival including ‘Thavil’ (percussion instrument), ‘Mridangam’ (a two-faced drum), ‘Flute’, ‘Ghatam’ (a clay pot percussion instrument), ‘Veena’ (an ancient string instruments with two gourds) and ‘Goottuvadyam’ (another rare instrument similar to Veena but without frets). At this festival no discrimination is made between young and old or upcoming or experienced artists. In the middle of the festival the birthday of the famous Carnatic Music composer ‘Thyagaraja’ is celebrated.
Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) Dance Festival is held annually at the coastal site of the ancient Hindu rock temples. In January and February these temples become the backdrop for the performances of some of the finest classical dance artists from all over India. The dance performances are held in front of the rock with the gigantic relief sculpture of ‘the penance of Arjuna’. The festival is organized by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department.
Natyanjali Dance Festival is held annually for five days starting from the auspicious festival of ‘Maha-Shivaratri’ and continues for five days. The date of the festival is usually in January or February. Lord Shiva is the God that inspired the Hindu dance tradition and this festival pays homage to Nataraja. The Nataraja Temple is the backdrop for some of the finest classical dances of India. The festival is organized by the Natyanjali Trust and the Department of Tourism of Tamil Nadu government.
Konark Dance Festival is held annually for five days starting from December 1. The Odissi Research Center and Orissa Tourism Department organize this festival. The 700-years old Surya Temple on the Chandrabhaga Beach forms the backdrop for musicians and dancers from all over India. Musicians and dancers of all different styles apart from Odissi also participate in this festival.