India is known for its array of festivals. These festivals are full of colour, cultural importance and are rich in promoting the varied culture of India. Their significance is seen over the years that they have been successful in promoting the specific culture with a great showcase in the form of dance, art, craft and other cultural performances that have lived though years. The locals sing and dance to tunes that signify the triumph and the tragedies of this land. This three day festival captures the real essence of the desert.
A few days before the spring full moon according to the Hindu calendar, musicians, dancers and performers from all over Rajasthan start moving in colorful camel caravans towards the golden town of Jaisalmer, which dons a festive look. The otherwise barren landscape is splashed with vibrant colors marking the opening of the Desert Festival. The 12th century fort of Jaisalmer, built in yellow sandstone, provides a fairytale background to this colourful festival forming the most desirable platform. Over the years, the desert dwellers in their solitude have woven a fascinating tapestry with threads of music and rhythm and the Desert Festival is a celebration of their heritage. It is a chance of a lifetime to see the folk art forms against the landscape that has nurtured them for hundreds of years.
One of the many traditionally rich festivals of India is the Jaisalmer Desert festival, held every year in the month of January or February at the Sam Sand Dunes in the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. This three day festival is a time of celebration for the natives of this city, the people of India and the numerous foreigners who travel to India to explore the mystique land called India. This desert festival culminates every year on Purnima or the full moon day.
For those of who looking to travel to Jaisalmer this is definitely the right time to take a step ahead. Jaisalmer has a lot to give, some of the must visit places include the famous Jaisalmer fort or Sonar Kila, which got the city its name, the golden city. One could also have a visual treat with a tour of the Jaisalmer havelis, Gadsisar Lake and the Wood fossil park. To know the history of this place first hand visit the government museum. The Jaisalmer Desert festival is still the most renowned aspects of Jaisalmer that draws most visitors to this place.
As the name suggests this festival is celebrated immensely with showcase of arts, turban tying competition and camel races, all in the honour of the greatness of the vast desert. The city reverberates with melody and local rajasthani tunes, the colourful craft bazaars light up the whole city. What draw the most attention are the men flaunting their big moustaches, to win the prestigious prize of best moustache. Camels that are an integral part of the desert play a very important role in this festival as well. Camel dances and the game of Camel polo are also enjoyed greatly.
This festival attracted a lot of foreign tourist, who travelled to Rajasthan to explore the facets and rich culture that has survived through decades. The Rajasthan Tourism that organised this festival every year saw the growing importance of this festival in promoting the art and culture of Rajasthan, and using this as a platform to let the world know the talent that resides here. They have now taken extra effort to set up cells that cater especially to the problems tourists face; these arrangements are monitored by local administrators and state of art Medical vans that has made this festival very tourist friendly and safe. Renowned artists and musicians also participate in this festival to add to the already existing glory of this festival.
The famous and very talented Gair and fire dancers, wearing vibrant and brightly colours costumes will definitely steal your heart away. You will be awe struck by their moves and the excellent aesthetic delight they bring to your eyes. The picturesque performance of the folk dancers against the full moon backdrop will make a permanent picture of the wonders of this land in your mind.
This festival has more to offer, there is no shortage of talent, spread over the distance are snake charmers creating their own act with the control that they have over the deadly snakes, puppeteers staging brilliant performance and wooing the visitors with the stories they have to say, the acrobats some as little as 5 doing things one can’t even imagine could be possible, captivating folk music recitals and the jugglers who make a living showcasing their talent. To add some giggles is the infamous Mr. Desert competition which is funny and charming in its own ways.
To take back a little bit of this festival with you, you could buy small and affordable handicrafts sold here by the locals. You could find a lot of things for yourself that oozes the culture of Rajasthan, you could find souvenirs for remembrance and gifts for your loved ones. Exquisitely embroidered skirts, hand-woven shawls, rugs, carvings on wood and stone, camel decorations, embroidered leather bags, ethnic silver jewelry and terracotta are brought in from all over the desert. These skillfully achieved crafts are objects d’art for the handicraft buff.
Once over this festival clearly brings a feeling of nostalgia, the vastness of the desert and the breathtaking performances of the local’s leaves a feeling that lingers on for a long time. This traditional extravaganza is a coveted event for music lovers and people long for its arrival as the year passes by. Not only does it help in reliving the culture that has existed through ages, but it also a platform for young artists from around the state to showcase their talent so that they could have a recognizable name in the future.
Next time around in the cold winters in the month of Jan- Feb catch the next train, plane or bus to Jodhpur, and hop onto a camel or a tempo and celebrate the desert festival with much more zeal and zest.