India is a unique country which never stops to impress with its diversity of traditions and festivals. When going to India it is always a challenge to choose where to go. If you plan to visit this colorful country in winter, we have a suggestion for you.
In the heart of the vast Thar Desert, lies the majestic city of Jaisalmer, known also as the “Golden City”. Every winter this city comes alive with the vibrant colors, authentic music and passionate dancing of the Desert Festival. Thousands of people swarm the city to experience the richness of Jaisalmer culture.
RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL, TOURIST-ORIENTED EVENT OR COMMEMORATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE?
As every Indian celebration, the Desert Festival has its story. According to the legend, Lord Krishna, ruler of Yadav community told Arjuna that a successor belonging to the Yadav clan will establish his kingdom on the Trikuta Hill. The prediction of Lord Krishna, eventually, came true. In 1196 Rawal Jaiswal, a descendant of the Yadav community set up his kingdom in Jaisalmer. Naturally, when people found out that the prophecy came true, they were overwhelmed with happiness and started celebrating it. The celebrations soon evolved into the Desert Festival. We should also mention that this celebration is different from many religious Hindu holidays you know, this festival doesn’t bear any specific meaning of purification, the victory of good over evil, and it is not a chance to ask gods for wealth and health. The main purpose of contemporary Desert Festival is to involve more people, to attract more tourists to learn about exquisite Rajasthan culture. Due to the efforts of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, which is responsible for organizing and hosting the festival, this celebration of the Rajasthan cultural heritage has flourished and developed significantly, attracting more and more visitors from all over the world.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE AT THE DESERT FESTIVAL
In 2019, Desert Festival takes place from the 17th to 19th of February at the beautiful golden desert city of Jaisalmer in the state of Rajasthan, India.The festival kicks off with a traditional procession known as Shobha Yatra. The procession commences at Sonar Road and culminates at the main venue of the festival, Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium. You will see myriads of men with swords in hands riding camels, horses, and elephants, locals in the most extravagant, bright costumes marching through the street. People dance and sing filling the air with indigenous vibes. Bhopa’s Langhas and Manganiars play folk music and sing touching ballads of romance, bravery, and tragedy. You can also relish the performances of local nomads, the Kalabaz or the Nat’s, famous for their fascinating gymnastic acts. In addition, you will see a lot of snake charmers, puppeteers and you will be astonished by breathtaking stunts of Gair and Fire dancers.
While enjoying all the festivities, don’t forget to go to Bazaar, a perfect place to shop for souvenirs, where you will definitely find something unique for yourself. Then you can fuel yourself up with some delicacies of traditional Rajasthani cuisine and continue exploring the local culture.
You shouldn’t miss some purely male contests. First of all, it is turban tying, which for locals is not only tradition but an art. Other manly events are Maru-Shri (Mr. Desert competition) and competition for the title of ‘the best mustaches’. In Rajasthan culture, the mustache is a symbol of honor. Judges assess mustaches, paying attention both to the quality and length of mustaches. The man who wins the competition is given a prize and regarded as the most honored man.
Also, no desert is possible without camels. Camels are the integral part of desert life as well as the desert festival. Therefore, at Jaisalmer Desert celebration, you can contemplate a host of camel-related events. Probably the most captivating competition is camel polo, which draws the attention of the audience by their camel riding skills. You can also experience spectacular stunts of Rajasthan gymnastics on the back of the camel. Camel formation dancing is another animated and amusing event. Finally, you can cheer for camel races, which are not less riveting and exciting than all other events mentioned above. By the way, in case you want more camels in your life, many hotels offer camel safaris.
Unfortunately, the festival takes place only for three days. The Desert Festival comes to an end on Poornima (meaning the full moon in Sanskrit). It means that you will have a chance to immerse into the fairy-tail ambiance of picturesque Sam sand dunes, listening to the folk concerts under the full moon and sparkling stars of the magical night sky. The culmination of the Desert Festival is sparkling fireworks exploding in the sky, leaving vivid impressions and bright memories from the festival.
KEEP CALM AND GO TO THE DESERT FESTIVAL
The Desert Festival is an excellent event, for those who are in love with India and its unique culture. In Jaisalmer, you will experience another India, remote, unspoiled and romantic atmosphere of golden sands far from hustle and bustle of typical, always in a move, exuberant and noisy India.
If you do like the idea of escaping from daily routine to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, start planning your trip straight away. The easiest way to get to the location of Desert festivities is by air. The Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, or you can also fly first to Delhi and then go by bus or train, which might take nearly 6 hours. In Jaisalmer, if you need any help, you can go to the tourist help center, where people are always eager to help tourists with how to spend the Desert Festival and enjoy time to the fullest.
Welcome to the fantastic world of India!