Desert Festival Jaisalmer India
by Shahnawaz Khan
(Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India)
Camel Cart Ride
Usually the desert winter offers warm balmy days and invigorating crispy nights. During winters the Great Indian Thar Desert hosts a colourful festival, the looks of which you have never seen before. An annual festival, Desert Festival is held in February on the Sam Sand Dunes, about 42 km from Jaisalmer.
One of the most popular festivals of Rajasthan, Desert Festival is celebrated for three days and commemorates on Purnima, the day of full moon.
Desert Festival is a special feature of Golden city of Jaisalmer and it displays the rich culture of Rajasthan. During the festival the city reverberates to the sound of melodious songs and rhythms. Desert festival showcases the performing arts of the region and a number of competitions. Artists perform traditional dances, sing local folk songs and speak of the lives of the local heroes.
People dress themselves in the colourful attires and participate in various events and competitions. Camel races, camel dances, tug-of-war among musclemen, turban tying competition and Mr Desert contest are some of the major highlight of the festival.
On the whole, the activities that take place during the three day festival will surely keep you amused. If you wish to experience the rich traditions of Rajasthan, but running short of time, then weave your itinerary around the Desert festival, it will provide you a close look of the Rajasthani culture.
Very little is known about the history of Desert festival, but the fun-filled festival is celebrated here for a long time. However, Jaisalmer has an interesting legend associated with it. According to the legend, Lord Krishna-the head of the Yadav Clan once told Arjuna that in future a descendant of the Yadav Clan would establish his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hi. In 1156 AD, the prophecy of Lord Krishna fulfilled as Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput and a descendant of the Yadav Clan, founded his new capital on the Trikuta Hill. Desert festival provides a glimpse of the culture that has been flourishing here, since the foundation of the city in the 12th century A.D.
An important cultural festival of Rajasthan, Desert Festival provides a cultural platform for the rich dance and music tradition of the state. Camel races, turban tying competitions, traditional folk music and dance performances, exciting competitions and contests are some of the highlights of the festival. Here you can see puppet shows, dancers, ballads and snake charmers as well. As the evening progresses, the sam dunes come alive with the soulful songs of the balladeers and dramas of the puppeteers. Local artisans present their artistic skills against the splendid backdrop of the Sam sand dunes on the milky white moon light. In the night the dancers perform the amazing acts like fire dance and acrobatic stunts.
The Desert festival is famous for the turban-tying competition, in which participants try to turn the long colourful fabric into attractive turbans. Another much-awaited event is the tug-of-war, in which participants get together to lend their combined strength to pull the rope. Mr Desert contest is an important event organised during the desert festival. People with long moustache participate in the Mr Desert contest.
In this contest size does matter, but only in the context of mustache and it attracts a lot of contenders, all vying to be the 'heariest of them all'.
During the desert festival colourful craft bazaars are set up where one can check out locally made items. Camels, the ship of the desert are an integral part of the desert festival.
Like other festivals of Rajasthan, in desert festival too, the camels are decorated beautifully and contests like camel dance and camel polo are organised.
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Shahnawaz Khan - Desert safariors Jaisalmer