The very first image that props up in our mind when we mention Rajasthan is COLOURS, CULTURE and maybe, CAMELS! The majestic state is in itself a grand set up that offers the most perfect blend of arts and history of our country. Carrying forward the baton of vivacity and exotica while being perched right atop the golden sandbanks of the majestic Thar desert is the city of JAISALMER. This GOLDEN CITY has apparently more colors to offer than the rainbow itself. It is home to the very popular JAISALMER DESERT FESTIVAL that attracts thousands of tourists from across the globe over a period of 3 days every year in February and gives them a peek into our heritage along with lots of entertainment and is spiked with blockbuster level drama.
Regional folk dances, street plays, unique beauty pageants, camel games, local cuisines, handicrafts, reverberating music, and a three day long cultural extravaganza swarmed by millions of people is what you will witness at the JAISALMER DESERT FESTIVAL.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna once told Arjuna that a ruler from the Yadav Community will establish his kingdom in the Trikuta Hill (Jaisalmer). In 1196, the prediction came true and there were celebrations all around. This legacy of this celebration eventually turned into a fully-fledged festival being organized by the government every year.
The Jaisalmer Desert Festival was started by the state tourism department on a very small scale as a proverbial means to attract more tourists and give them a glimpse into the extravagant culture of the imperial state of Rajasthan. It has now reached a cult stature, thanks to the tourism board's wonderful execution and planning each year.
LOCATION AND DATES
The festival is held every year in the Hindu month of Magh, three days prior to the full moon. It is celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm amidst the beautiful dunes of Thar in an area called SAM DUNES (located 42 kms from Jaisalmer city). The remote, desolate and romantic location is brought to life during this three-day cultural potpourri.
The dates for this year's Jaisalmer Desert Festival have been locked in as 7th- 9th February. Get ready to delve into the sights, smells, and tastes of the Golden City!
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE JAISALMER DESERT FESTIVAL
The festival commences with a procession in the morning from the Jaisalmer Fort to the Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium. The locals dress in traditional and bright costumes, singing and dancing about the stories of war; of bravery, valor, loss, and tragedies that the desert witnessed. The Gair and the fire dance by tribals are highlights of the festival. There are some wonderful Gymnastic feats on display by the local nomads of Kalabaz or the Nat’s. The tribes of Bhopa’s Langhas and Manganiars add to the enchantment with their soul stirring recitals and ballads of Rajasthani folk music.
If unique sporting events are your cup of tea, get ready to witness games like Camel polo, camel cricket, and camel races. They are enthralling and entertaining to bits often attracting a larger chunk of the audience during the festival. Then there are snake charmers, puppeteers, magicians, and acrobats all devoted to giving you an experience to remember.
The major attractions of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival also include unusual competitions like the fastest turban tying, tug of war, the longest mustache, even a Mr. Desert (locally called Maru Shri) pageant. Tourists enjoy witnessing these events almost as much as they love delving into the local foods of the desert state. There are numerous stalls serving up local delicacies for the guests to savor.
Shopping at the Jaisalmer desert festival includes locally made handicrafts with mirror work or exquisite threadwork and a plethora of other colorful artifacts. Tourists love to take them home as souvenirs from this exotic cultural extravaganza.
The festival comes to its fitting grand climax with a thrilling Air force display, cricket match and, parachuting followed by Rajasthani folk concert. Imagine how magical the ending would be with the Sonar Qila, Jaisalmer Fort glistening gloriously in the full moonlight of Poornima.
The grand finale of the festival is the Rajasthani folk concert following an Air Force display, cricket match, and parachuting. This festival ends on Poornima (full moon day) in the Sam dunes with the “Sonar Qila” Jaisalmer Fort in the background creating a fairy-tale ambiance. (change later)
DRESSING UP AT THE JAISALMER DESERT FESTIVAL
Dressing up for the Jaisalmer Desert Festival should be kept in the spirit and colors of the festival itself. Bright shades of red, yellow, green, etc. are spotted very commonly. Women wear bright ghagra choli with Jaipuri Dupattas, while men are seen in dhotis with Jaipur prints kurtas, twisting away with pride at their long mustaches. Mehendi tattoos on hands and even feet are also commonly spotted on the females. The attire adds even more vivaciousness to the overall vibe of the festival. Jaisalmer is well connected by rail and road easily and if you do plan to visit the historical city, don't miss the chance to attend the mighty and magical Jaisalmer desert festival.