Rajasthan is a mirror of the state’s age-old grandeur, remnants of which are still present in its sights and sounds. With an interesting blend of history, culture, and cuisines, you turn into an admirer as soon as you visit the state. The spectacular forts, beautiful palaces, and stories of chivalry are more than enough to enlighten you on your visit to Rajasthan.
However, your visit to Rajasthan is incomplete if you don’t experience one of its festivals; there’s a myriad of festivals that take place in the state. Celebrating heritage, culture, nature, and life with full gusto and great energy, the kaleidoscopic festivals are something that must form a part of your trip itinerary. Here is a ready list of the famous festivals in Rajasthan you should know about if you wish to discover Rajasthan for a colourful festive experience: –
1. Rajasthan International Folk Festival – A Treat For the Listeners
The 4-day Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) takes place annually at the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. The fort provides a magnificent setting as droves of music lovers arrive here to listen to soulful performances. The festival takes place at the time of Sharad Purnima, a time when the moon shines at its brightest in northern India.
More than a decade old, this festival was started to establish a medium for reviving Rajasthani folk music. In addition, it is also a platform where global music is interestingly infused with Rajasthani music. Take the case of last year; the festival was a grand affair in itself. The walls of the fort echoed back with the unforgettable sounds of artists from Portugal, Tehran, Spain, USA, and many more that collaborated with Rajasthani folk musicians to create interesting fusions and medleys. If you love music, you are certainly going to love this famous festival of Rajasthan.
2. Pushkar Camel Fair – Where Camels are Dressed in their Finest
The Pushkar Camel Fair takes place in the town of Pushkar, a beautiful town in Rajasthan. Being a popular fair, it involves the arrival of beautifully dressed camels with traders and pilgrims as their companions. Wondering what’s there for you at the fair? Well, you can start with watching how traders decide to buy a camel based on its appearance, age, colour, and reaction to calls; it is interesting and amusing at the same time.
To add a little thrill to your visit, hop on a hot air balloon to catch an aerial view of the fair which is nothing short of satisfying. The list of bizarre yet fascinating cultural programs at the fair includes turban tying contests, moustache contests, and many more. Beautiful vibrant colours are a common sight at the fair, making it one of the most colourful and famous festivals in Rajasthan. The fair will take place in November this year.
3. International Kite Festival – The Rajasthani Festival that sees the most footfall
Celebrated on the occasion of Makar Sakranti (14th January) every year, the International Kite festival involves the coming together of kite fliers from all parts of the country to participate in kite flying with full enthusiasm. This famous festival of Rajasthan takes place in Jaipur and you cannot help but feel the excitement lingering in the air as people fly kites to celebrate the arrival of warmer winds and the end of the chilly winter season. Everyone has a gala time at this three-day festival.
This year, kite lovers took part in a total of two competitions – ‘Display Flying’ and the ‘Fighter Kite.’ The former involved people showcasing their colourful and eye-catching kites and the latter involved a nail-biting fight between the kite flyers to see who wins the intense kite-flying combat. In the end, prizes were distributed to those who won.
4. Brij Holi Celebrations: Celebrate the Festival of Colour in Bharatpur
Holi is one of the most fun-inducing, merry-making, and playful festivals that people look forward to. Brij Holi in the Rajasthani city of Bharatpur is celebrated with a lot of vigour as well, although a tad differently. Lord Krishna is worshipped during the time of Brij Holi. The spirit of Bharatpur comes alive with various cultural festivals taking place during Brij Holi celebrations. Being a famous name among the festivals of Rajasthan, Brij Holi is when people dress in colourful clothes and sing songs while splashing colours on each other to celebrate Holi.
5. Jaipur Literature Festival: Attend a Literary Love-Fest
The Jaipur Literature Festivals is among the main festivals of Rajasthan, one which a lot of people look forward to. In fact, such has been the popularity of this festival that it features as a highlight in many Rajasthan tour packages. Come January and the gorgeous grounds of the Diggi Palace Hotel are prepared and brimming for the festival to take place. The city itself sports a more vibrant hue during this festival.
What’s in it for you? Let’s see – a host of fascinating readings, debates, talks, author integrations, and workshops spread across different genres such as history, cinema, travel, and fiction. At the Jaipur Literature Festival, the evenings are equally interesting with indie acts and folk musicians taking centre stage. The next Jaipur Literature Festival is going to be held from January 23- January 27, 2020.
6. The Festival of Urs in Ajmer: Experience the magic of live Qawwali
A yearly Urs celebration is held at the popular Ajmer Sharif Shrine in Rajasthan. The celebration takes place on the death anniversary of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the Sufi saint. He was the founder of Chishti Sufi order in the Indian Subcontinent.
This famous festival in Rajasthan is a six-day festival taking place in the 7th month of the Islamic lunar calendar. People from all over India and abroad throng the shrine of Moinuddin Chishti to pay their respects to the saint at the time of the festival of Urs.
To witness this in all its pomp, you will have to visit the city of Ajmer. You can then head to the Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Dargah. The place is filled with the mesmerizing scent of incense sticks and you can see several devotees pay homage to the saint by offering chadars over his grave. The whole environment is deeply engrossing and is characterized by brightly lit candles, prayers in progress, and qawwali performances that fill you with a sense of serenity and wonderment.
7. Mount Abu Summer Festival in Rajasthan: See the Culture of the Locals
The only hill station in Rajasthan – Mount Abu celebrates the Mount Abu summer festival to display the culture of the locals. Lasting a total of 3 days, the festival takes place in May every year. You get to see processions in every nook and corner of the town. Various competitions take place and fireworks adorn the sky. The folk dance and music performances are the other highlights of the area. This year, the summer festival saw musicians singing ballads of heroes that are no longer remembered. The cheerfulness that the festival brings to the street catches your attention and draws you towards it.
8. Elephant Festival: Watch Elephants Dressed Up in Creative Attires
Elephants are given a vibrant makeover in the Elephant festival that takes place a day before the festival of Holi. Elephants are adorned in ribbons and striking jewellery while the female elephants wear clanking anklets. Watch them walk through the streets at this intriguing elephant fair and get ready to be enamoured as you stare in wonder at their interesting attires.
Activities at the festival include elephant polo matches at Chaughan Stadium and elephant races. But, it is also important to note that animal welfare groups have expressed strong disapproval over the treatment of elephants in the elephant festivals.
9. Jaisalmer Desert Festival: Watch Interesting Activities Unfold in the Desert
Camel races, folk music, camel polo, turban-tying contests, and the popular Mr Desert competition are the events that take place in the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. Snake charmers are also present at this festival. All in all, it can be intriguing to be a spectator here. Its popularity among locals makes it one of the most famous festivals of Rajasthan.
10. Mewar Festival – Get to know Rajputana Traditions
Celebrated with full gusto during the advent of spring, the Mewar Festival is attended by locals and tourists alike. People who are interested in Rajputana traditions are welcomed to attend the festival. Being one of the famous festivals of Rajasthan, the Mewar Festival held in Udaipur is a vibrant spectacle as you get to feel the ecstasy in the air when you attend the festival. Bright lights decorate different shops in the city. Women dress up the images of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and then carry them in a procession. The images are then finally immersed in the Pichola Lake.
Plan your visit to Rajasthan at times that coincide with some of these festivals. Even if you get to attend just one of these festivals, you are bound to come back another time because the things to do, the places to see in Rajasthan, and exploring its vastness isn’t something that you can do in a single trip.