In India, the calendar will appear to be another name for an almost unbroken sequence of fairs and festivals. But as noted by Col.Tod in his "Annals...", Mewar had a special genius for festivity. Quoting the phrase 'saat vaar, aur nau tyauhaar' - seven days and nine festivals - he adds: 'not only do the prolongation and repetition of some, but the entire institution of others, as well as the peculiar splendour of their solemnization, originate with the prince.'
Celebrated every year in October-November, Diwali is perhaps the most popular of all Indian festivals. It is a celebration of light, both literally and metaphorically. The origin of this festival can be traced back to the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, when Lord Ram returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. The whole kingdom was light up with diyas(earthen lamps) to celebrate his return. To date, on Diwali day, house all over India glow with twinkle of innumerable diyas, candles and electric lights. The night is illuminated with the flaming lights of fireworks, creating kaleidoscopic designs against the black canvas of the sky.
For the Hindu business communities, Diwali marks the begining of the New Year. The goddess of wealth, Laxmi, is worshiped, and new books of accounts are opened after pooja (worship).
The Mewar festival is celebrated to welcome the advent of spring. It coincides with the festival of Gangaur in Udaipur, and has a unique charm about it.
The festival of Gangaur is very significient for women of Rajasthan. It is a time for them to dress up in their best clothes and participate in the festival. They gather to dress the image of Isar and Gangaur and then carry them in ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. The procession winds its way to the Gangaur Ghat at Lake Pichhola. Here, the images are transferred to special boats amidst much singing and festivity.
Once the religious part of the festival is over, it is time for cultural events where Rajasthani culture is portrayed through songs, dances and other programmes. The festival culminates with an impressive fireworks display. Like other fairs and festivals celebrated throughout the state, there is a lot of activity which keeps the participants in a joyful frame of mind, eager to enjoy every moment of the celebrations.
Teej is also an important festival celebrated in all parts of Rajasthan. It comes in the month of July - August.
It is the festival celebrating the advent of monsoon. Held during the monsoons, July-August Teej is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati and this time it is married women who pray for a happy and long married life.
It is the festival of swings which are decorated with flowers and hung from trees. Young girls and women dressed in green clothes sing songs in celebration of the advent of the monsoon. Teej is celebrated mainly by the women folk of Rajasthan. Married women who idolize Parvati for her devotion to her husband Shiva celebrate Teej.
Holi is celebrateed throughout the northern belt of India to welcome the spring season with a profusion of colours. All over the place, blithe faces smeared in rainbow hues and drenched in colour water can be seen.
Today, Holi is an occasion to get rid of one's inhibitions and make merry with reckless abandon. People from all walks of life indulge in revilry, liberally splashing colours on each other. Singing, dancing and merry-making becomes the order of the day.
Shilpgram, a crafts village 3km west of Fateh Sagar, has displays of traditional houses from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra. There are also demonstrations by musicians, dancers, or artisans from these states. The 10 day festival is a treat for the visitor to an array of exquisite art and craft. Shilpgram hosts the festival.
One of the important objectives of Shilpgram is in the sphere of increasing awareness and knowledge of rural life and crafts, specifically, for the younger generation. Special emphasis is laid on workshops for children on arts, crafts, theatre and music.
Know More about Shilgram and Shilgram Festival.
The festival in which the brother pledges to guard his sister against all dangers, is celebrated on the full moon day of Shravan (August). On this day, woman and young girls tie rakhis(bracelets) made of ribbon, gold, silver and silk threads on their brother's wrists. The girl solemnly seeks her brother's abiding hand of protection in time of distress and the brother pledges to be her side whenever she needs him. The festival in a way reaffirms the sacred relationship between brothers and sisters.
Dussehra is celebrated in different parts of the country, in different manner. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil i.e. commemorating the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana. A month-long Ram Lila dance festival is organised, depicting scenes from the epic Ramayana, while on Dussehra evening itself, gigantic effigies of the ten-headed Ravana and his brother Kumbhkaran, stuffed with thousands of fire crackers are set afire. The biggest venue for this event is the Maharana Bhopal stadium.