When we think about Rajasthan, we think of colours and brightness, royalty and hospitality, celebrations and feasts, music and dance, culture and tradition, history and heritage.
Rajasthan packs the essence of Incredible India in 1 state. And the experience of Rajasthan is never complete unless you have a taste of the myriad fairs and festivals that it has to offer. They are a celebration of life, culture, heritage, and nature, in true Rajasthani style. Here are some of the festivals of Rajasthan you must experience at least once in your lifetime
Here is a list of 17 Festivals of Rajasthan that you simply cannot miss:
1. Rajasthan International Folk Festival, Jodhpur
Hailed as a 'People's Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development' and patronised by the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Sir Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, RIFF is an annual music and art festival for the promotion of traditional folk music and arts. It is celebrated around Sharad Purnima, the brightest full moon night of the year and is a unique celebration of Indian as well as international music at Jodhpur's Mehrangarh Fort. More than 200 musicians from around the globe attend this festival, making it an absolute treat for music and art lovers. It coincides with the Marwar festival.
Location: Mehrangarh Fort and Museum, Jodhpur
A three-day event organised by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation in the month of February, it is an absolute bonanza that celebrates the delights of the desert. The atmosphere is alive with song and dance, with the artists dressed in bright colours and traditional finery, depicting the tragedies and accomplishments of the desert. A showcase of desert rituals and life, camel races, gymnastic stunts, several competitions like the longest moustache, turban tying, Mr Desert etc, delicious food and interesting stalls selling handicrafts and other souvenirs will make it a memorable 3 days of your life
Location: Sam Dunes (42 kilometres from Jaisalmer)
3. Pushkar Fair, Pushkar
The Big Daddy of all desert festivals, Pushkar Fair is a spectacular five-day camel and livestock fair held in the town of Pushkar, on the banks of the Pushkar lake in Rajasthan. It also coincides with the religious celebration of Kartik Ekadashi, when the Pushkar lake was supposed to be created by Lord Brahma. Primarily a livestock fair for the buying and selling of camels, the Pushkar fair attracts hordes of tourists making it a true cultural bonanza of art, music, dance, puppet shows, gypsy dance, races, competitions with a host of vendors selling delicious snacks including camel milk cheeses and cakes, jewellery, shawls and other titbits. The entire festive and spiritual atmosphere completely lights up the desert in these five days.
Location: Pushkar Fair Ground, Pushkar, Ajmer, Rajasthan
4. Teej Festival, Jaipur
One of west India's biggest festivals, Teej commemorates two things - a woman's love for her husband and the advent of the monsoon season. The festival is marked by colourful celebrations where the womenfolk observe fasting and apply mehndi designs on their hands, enjoy long swing rides, song and dance with other women, tell stories and deck up in festive attire to celebrate the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The markets and bazaars of Jaipur are filled to the brim with attractive clothes, jewellery and sweets like Ghewar and Malpua. A procession of a decorated idol of Goddess Parvati is carried through Jaipur, and thousands of devotees and tourists throng to see the procession and the antique palanquins, chariots, bands, folk music and dance and soak in the cultural revelry.
Location: Chaugan Stadium, Jaipur, Rajasthan
5. Gangaur Festival, Jaipur
Another festival that commemorates the goddess Parvati and her home-coming, it is celebrated with huge fanfare in Rajasthan by women. Processions of a decked up Goddess Gauri are carried all over the city and everyone participates in these processions, often accompanied by elephant processions, old palanquins, chariots, folk song and dance and often ends with fireworks. It coincides with the Mewar Festival in Udaipur. This is a very famous festival of Rajasthan.
Location: Across Jaipur
6. Jaipur Literature Festival, Jaipur
Perhaps not as glamorous as some of the other festivals on this list, JLF is the world's largest free literary festival. Nobel laureates, Booker prize winners, debut novelists - the who's who of the literary world come together for five days of readings, discussions and debates at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur. A great platform that provides access to some of the greatest authors and thinkers on this planet and gives courage to young minds to dream and imagine, it is not a chance anyone should miss.
Location: Diggi Palace, Jaipur
7. Nagaur Fair, Nagaur
The second largest fair in the country, it is essentially a cattle fair that attracts more than two lakh animal owners to bring their horses, cows, bullocks, oxen, camels etc. to be a part of a large trade show. A lot of animal races and cockfights in the day, followed by some dance and music in the nights attracts tourists and animal owners alike. Organised by the Department of Animal Husbandry, it brings out the true Rajput flavour of Rajasthan.
Location: Nagaur, Jodhpur
8. Summer and Winter Festivals, Mt. Abu
Celebrated to showcase the warmth and culture of the people belonging to the only hill station in Rajasthan, both these festivals are held over a period of three days, in May and December respectively. They are marked by processions all over town, followed by a range of competitions, folk dance and music and dazzling fireworks to celebrate the spirit of the town. A unique combination of divine hospitality and exotic location attracts a large number of tourists during the festival days.
Dates: Summer Festival - 17th to 18th May 2019, Winter Festival - 29th to 31st December 2019
Location: Nakki lake and Pologround, Mt.Abu
9. World Sufi Spirit Festival, Gangaur, Jodhpur
Hosting artists from Mongolia, Afghanistan, Africa, Italy etc. and also from various parts of the state and the country, it is a very exclusive event that attracts a limited number of patrons. A very simple affair means you can sit down to chat with some of the brilliant artists or even the royalty of Jodhpur. Add to that some delicious food and the ambience of the spectacularly lit-up Nagaur fort, and you will surely have the experience to cherish for a lifetime.
Location: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
10. Kite Festival, Jodhpur
A 3-day festival to celebrate the spirit of Makar Sankranti, the Jodhpur International Desert Kite Festival, is simply put, a kite-flying competition. In reality, it is a colourful and extravagant spectre of kites, of myriad shapes, colours and sizes that deck up the desert sky. A number of helicopters release kites in the sky and children release balloons, making it a truly magnificent and spectacular event.
Location: Jodhpur Polo Ground, Jodhpur
11. Camel Festival, Bikaner
Organised in the honour of the ship of the desert, the Camel Festival is a spectacular festival celebrated in Bikaner. Just like the other celebrations of Rajasthan, this festival kicks off with great pomp and show. Celebrated every year in the pleasant January, the Camel Festival is a two-day long affair with a colourful parade of the decked up camels against the backdrop of the magnificent Junagadh Fort. It includes camel race, camel games and other cultural performances. Though celebrated to glorify the camels of Rajasthan, this festival also includes the traditional Rajasthani folk performances. The festival concludes with an awe-inspiring display of fireworks, illuminating the majestic skies of Bikaner.
Location: Karni Singh Stadium, Bikaner
Read more about Camel Festival in Bikaner
12. Mewar Festival, Udaipur
The city of Udaipur comes alive with colours of festivities during the Mewar Festival which marks the advent of spring in the region. It is a major festival of Rajasthan and people from all over the globe flock to Udaipur to witness the glory of the town during this time. The whole town is decorated with bright lights and a joyous mood reigns in the air. This festival includes a number of practices, like dressing the idols of Isar and Gangaur and carrying them in a traditional procession through various parts of the city. People also engage in cultural dance and songs, revealing the colourful culture of Rajasthan.
13. Urs Festival, Ajmer
Usually held in the month of May and June, the Urs Festival is one of the major festivals celebrated at the venerated Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Hordes of pilgrims travel to this town, located to the West of Jaipur to visit this holy shrine. The Urs Festival commemorates the death anniversary of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the revered Sufi Saint. The fair is held for six days because it is believed that the Khwaja Moinuddin cooked for six days before he left his mortal remains. His followers from all over the world throng Ajmer to seek his blessings during these six sacred days.
14. Brij Holi, Bharatpur
The most loved festival in India is celebrated in a grand and elaborate style, a few days ahead before Holi, in Bharatpur located in the Brij region of Rajasthan. The spirit of the city comes alive during this festival, with people dressed in their brightest attires and singing colourful songs. Lord Krishna is worshipped in this festival, thus the entire love story of Krishna and Radha is showcased in the form of a dance, which is the unique feature of this festival. The entire region is immersed in the colours of Holi during this time and the people are at their merriest self. Tourists from far and wide come to Bharatpur to experience the out of the world festivities.
15. Kota Adventure Festival
Combine adventure with spirituality and you have the Kota Adventure Festival! It is one of the fascinating festivals of Rajasthan, held during Dussehra in the month of October. During this festival, adventure sports are organised which beckons people from every part of the country. The main aim of the festival is to boost the tourism of the state. It is a week-long haven for adventure enthusiasts since the key events include rafting, windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking rock climbing, trekking, angling and rural excursions. The main highlight of the festival is kite flying. Name any adventure sports and you would probably find it at the Kota Adventure Festival.
16. Elephant Festival, Jaipur
The hub of grand festivals and celebrations, Rajasthan, is the centre for the unique and much awaited Camel Festival, held annually in the Pink City, Jaipur. The festival is organised to highlight the importance of elephants in Rajasthan and takes place during the time of Holi. Groomed to perfection and glittering in gold, the elephants' catwalk amidst an enthralled audience, with musicians playing the folk songs. Games like elephant polo, elephant race, tug-of-war, and elephant decoration are the highlights of this festival. It commemorates with the people mounting on the elephants and playing with colours. This unique festival is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Location: Chaugan Stadium, Jaipur
17. Chandrabhaga Fair, Jhalawar
Jhalawar is a princely state located in south-eastern Rajasthan which is the host to the Chandrabhaga Fair every year during the month of October and November. This is predominantly a cattle fair which is held on the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima when thousands of people take a dip in the holy Chandrabhaga River. It is considered a holy place by the local people who call is Chandravati. Just like the famous Pushkar fair, this fair also organises the cattle fair where livestock is available for re-sale. Traders and merchants from all over the country flock here and take part in this fair in Rajasthan.
Location: Jhalrapatan, 6 kms from Jhalawar
18. Sacred Festival
Sacred Festival or Shree, as it is popularly known, is a festival celebrating the rich spiritual and musical tradition of the state. It is globally acclaimed and attracts thousands of tourists from across the world. It is celebrated in the antiquated town on Pushkar. Every year, the government of Rajasthan and Department of Tourism come together to put together this festival. Renowned musicians across the state are called to showcase their talent. This festival celebrates spirit, prosperity and self-disclosure through the medium of music. Tourists may find several corners allocated to healing sound, heritage walks, soul-stirring music and holistic therapies. This festival is dedicated to the revival of the entire body, mind and soul. Apart from the musical aspect, you may also find huge shops selling delicious Rajasthani delicacies and artwork.
Location: Jaipur Ghat, Pushkar
19. Bundi Utsav
The Bundi Utsav is the main festival in Rajasthan and major attraction of the town of Bundi. It is located 39 km, Northwest of Kota. It is a little off beaten track for tourists. The town of Bundi sets a beautiful backdrop for this festival. It is dotted with palaces and forts which make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. The nearby river of Chambal gives ample opportunities for water sport activities. As the entire festival is a celebration of the town, the stalls and shops set up of the natives themselves. Seldom are people called from outside. It also hosts various competitions like the turban weaving and moustache competition. The festival has various food stalls, shops selling souvenirs and traditional art. The festival also showcases cultural programs, ethnic sports, Shobha Yatra and the famous Fold Dance. The fireworks display marks the end of the festival and is absolutely breath-taking.
Dates: November- December (month of Karthik)
Location: Bundi, Haodati District
20. Kumbhalgarh festival
The Kumbhalgarh festival is a celebration of Maharana Kumbha’s contribution toward art and culture. It is celebrated in his place of residence, the Kumbhalgarh Fort. The Kumbhalgarh Fort is beautifully decorated during this time, with all the chandeliers being brought out for display along with other royal works of art. Traditional artists are called from all parts of India to showcase their craftsmanship from jewellers to potters. The festival is divided into three days with different themes on each day. There are also different competitions held each day, to bring out the enthusiasm of the visiting tourists. Kalbeliyas, Langas, Kachi Ghodi and Odissi dancers often hold dance sessions. The festival is a joint venture of the government of Rajasthan and the Department of Tourism to give a feel of India to foreigners.
Dates: December 1-3, 2019
21. Baneshwar festival
Baneshwar festival is a popular tribal festival in Rajasthan held in Baneshwar, Dungarpur District. Baneshwar is a small delta formed by the river of Soma, which can be found 68 km from Dungarpur. Lord Shiva was also called Baneshwar and that is why this festival is dedicated to him. This festival unlike the other is celebrated to pay respect to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu through traditional rituals. It is a major attraction for tribals (especially Bhils) and tourists alike. Earlier, two fairs were held with each pair being dedicated to one god. But, in the present day, only one fair is held where processions are carried out from morning till night. The fair spans 5 days with each day being more action-packed than any other. The fair also holds multiple events such as magic shows, acrobatic performances, animal shows and much more.
22. Kolayat Fair
Kolayat Fair is held in the beautiful city of Bikaner. This festival is a major event for the natives as well as the state of Rajasthan. It is eagerly awaited by the like. The fair holds a religious significance while providing ample opportunities for entertainment. The fair, like all others, attracts lakhs of tourist from around the world. What differentiates this festival from others is the famous ritual of dipping oneself in the Kolayat lake. The Kolayat lake is regarded highly by the natives and it is said that a dip in this river will provide you respite from all the sins that you may have done over the years. For this purpose, the ghats are beautifully decorated and lit. Stalls are set up on multiple locations selling a myriad of things from colourful bangles to delicious Rajasthani delicacies.
Dates: 10-12th December 2019
These are just some of the festivals and fairs in Rajasthan that make up the unique cultural melting pot that is this beautiful Indian state. Can we see you packing your bags already?